Preventing mental health problems arising in children – Dr Aric Sigman shares his observations and insights at event hosted by LMP

On a balmy July evening, in a venue overlooking the Thames, LMP hosted an evening with Dr Aric Sigman, an American Chartered Psychologist and experienced lecturer on PSHE health education for school pupils, parents and medics. Dr Sigman has studied child wellbeing and development around the world, and these observations, combined with his school PSHE work, have provided some clear insights on this issue, many of which he shared with his audience at this LMP event.

With attention currently more focused on identifying and treating children with mental health problems once they arise, Dr Sigman has focused his attention on preventing mental health problems arising. He began his talk acknowledging that whilst a child’s life, family circumstances and genes are obvious factors influencing their mental health, there are additional lifestyle and family factors that can make an enormous difference to a child’s mental wellbeing. Dr Sigman encouraged parents to trust their instincts more but at the same time act in areas where there can be significant parental control including ensuring children get enough sleep, physical activity, exposure to green spaces and quality family time whilst also being stricter in terms of discretionary screen time and alcohol consumption.  He also warned parents to be prepared to handle body sensitivity issues, made worse by social media and to pull back on overscheduling their children’s lives giving them space and time to be children.

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