18.2.1  Promoting a happy, healthy childhood

A child who comes from a loving home is more likely to grow up into an adult who can trust other people, have good relationships and cope with life’s problems (Figure 18.1).

A happy, healthy child
Figure 18.1  A happy, healthy childhood is important for later mental health (Photo: Rosa Hoekstra)

As you learned in Session 17, children who experience physical, emotional or sexual abuse have a much higher risk of developing a mental illness as an adult. Children can also suffer from the effects of bullying. Bullying is when other children say nasty things or are physically violent towards a child.

  • In Study Session 17 you read about things you can do when you suspect that a child is being abused (Section 17.4.1). Can you now think of some ways that you could

    • a.help to prevent child abuse from happening
    • b.reduce bullying in your community?
  • You can

    • a.Educate the community about the importance of a happy, healthy childhood, e.g. by holding an awareness-raising meeting (see Section 18.6).
    • b.If you have the chance to speak in a school, you can tell the teachers that (1) bullying is common; (2) bullying can lead to mental illness in the child or later when they grow up; (3) it is important to identify when bullying is taking place and do something about it. You can encourage the school to make a plan for dealing with bullying and supporting the child who is bullied.

18.2  Mental health promotion and primary prevention

18.2.2  Reducing exposure to violence