Prevention for parents and caregivers
Each of us is born with a unique genetic profile that influences our development. But genes do not exist in a vacuum. Our development is also shaped by the people in our lives, our experiences and our environment.
One of the biggest of these influences is our parents and caregivers. And they’re important through our whole life – from before conception, during pregnancy, and then into infancy, childhood, adolescence and even adulthood.
It’s pretty simple. Supportive and safe family environments are good for kids’ brain development and their mental wellbeing.
On the other hand, children who experience overly stressful family environments can develop changes in their immune and stress hormone systems. In turn, these can negatively affect their brain’s chemistry and physical architecture and compromise their psychological and social development.
Because these early years of life are so important for kids’ emotional development, it’s crucial that parents get the support they need to create a safe and nurturing environment that promotes their child’s development and wellbeing.
Practical help, emotional support, information resources, parenting-skills programs, and child and family friendly social policies are all part of what’s needed to help parents help their kids thrive.
But it’s also important to remember that while our parents and caregivers ‘make’ us and help to ‘shape’ us, our development depends on a whole lot of other factors as well.
Parents and caregivers lay the foundations for our mental wellbeing, but they are certainly not to blame for mental health conditions – our genetic profile, our physical and social environments, and our own choices and actions also play a big role.