Something that surprises parents when they bring their child to see me for developmental, learning, or behavior challenges is that I ask about things like eating habits, bowel movements, sleep, infections/illnesses, and many other things that most people think of as “physical health” rather than “mental health.” As it turns out your child’s physical health is connected to their mental health.
The greatest misconception is …
People tend to think of the brain and body as two separate entities, and view mental health and physical health as completely different. That’s because the medical and mental health fields are set up to create this artificial distinction! The truth is that they are totally interconnected. We cannot understand a child’s mental health, brain function, development, and behavior without understanding what’s happening in their body.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re a parent, it means understanding that supporting physical health and wellness is key to supporting your child’s brain and behavior. If your child is struggling and you seek out assessment or intervention, it means working with providers who understand these connections, asking good questions, and making sure that you child’s brain and body symptoms are being looked at together.
What about for professionals?
If you’re a professional, it means looking at children through the lens of physical and mental health. If a child is struggling in one or more areas of development, it means asking good questions about what’s going on physically and environmentally to understand the full picture. It means advocating for children to get the holistic care their need if assessing and treating these issues is outside of your scope of practice.
Now that you know physical health and mental health are connected. What aha’s are you having about the potential connections between your child’s physical symptoms and their brain/behavior symptoms?
If you found this video helpful and would like to read more on this topic, here are a few blog posts that expand on how physical health and mental health are connected.
What questions do you have about this? Let me know in the comments below so I can support you further!