The mental health benefits of children’s camps

Updated: Jan 4

What is mental health?

Mental health, sometimes called ‘mental well-being’, is a term used to describe our thoughts, emotions or ‘moods’, and behaviour. In defining mental health it is important to remember that, just like our physical health, our mental health is not fixed but instead varies throughout our lives. We all go through ‘ups and downs’ and may even have times of year when we feel less emotionally stable. For example, some people have been shown to have poorer mental health in the winter months in climates where there is less sunlight at this time of year.

Many studies have shown that our mental health is closely linked to our physical well-being - if we have poor mental health it can affect our physical health; if we have poor physical health it can affect our mental well-being. There has been increased awareness of mental health during recent times, not least because the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the mental well-being of many people.

It is well established that adults can suffer poor mental health due to the pressures and anxieties that come from the adult world, including work and family commitments, but it is becoming increasingly acknowledged that children are also subject to external pressures and can suffer from mental health issues. It is therefore very important that parents are aware of the mental health of kids, as well as potential issues. And how to fight them is known by teachers in our holiday camp.

Common mental health issues

There are many things that can contribute to mental health including our genetics (the biological makeup that we inherit from our parents) and experiences throughout our life, including those that are pleasant or unpleasant. Mental health issues can result from traumatic events that happened a long time ago and which we may not even be consciously aware of. Some of the more common mental health issues in children across Singapore include anxiety, stress, depression, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and eating disorders.

How can you spot issues?

There is increasing understanding about the importance of mental health in Singapore. It is acknowledged that it is important to detect signs of mental health issues as soon as possible so that they do not develop into more serious problems. Some common signs of poor mental health in kids may include:

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Eating too much or too little

  • Depression or a feeling of hopelessness

  • Lethargy or lack of energy

  • Lack of interest in social engagement

  • Persistent lack of focus

  • Obsessive activities

  • Extreme moods

However, it is important to remember that unsociable ‘moody’ teenage kids may be dealing with hormonal and other growth changes and are not necessarily suffering from poor mental health!

Ways to improve kids’ mental health

Luckily there are many ways that kids, as well as adults, can help to keep mentally healthy. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Keep active and do regular exercise

  • Eat healthily

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Get plenty of sleep

  • Do social activities

  • Do fun things and activities that you enjoy

  • Ask for help if you feel anxious or sad

How kids camps can help

There are many reasons why kids camps are awesome, but one important reason is that they can help kids maintain good mental health. Holiday camps are sociable places where teamwork and interaction with other kids happens all the time, helping kids to learn the social skills that will be important for good mental health throughout their lives. Good camps always offer a balance of activities that exercise the brain and body, meaning that kids stay physically active and their bodies produce mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. This physical activity also helps promote good sleep, another important contributor to good mental health. Reputable camps will also provide plenty of breaks, to allow kids to unwind and drink water, as well as healthy snacks and lunches to keep their bodies nutrified. Teachers at camps are trained to spot signs of anxiety or poor mental health and are always there to listen if kids have concerns. And, of course, one key thing that mums need to know about sending their kids to camp is that camps are all about doing engaging activities and having fun, a key contributor to positive mental health!

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