Keep an eye out for children at-risk for developing mental health challenges. Tune into situational stressors. Children with and without physical or emotional disabilities are likely, at some point in their lives, to struggle with situational stressors such as parental divorce, the death of a family member, living in poverty, friendship issues, bullying, or academic challenges. During such times, character strengths, coping strategies, and environmental supports can serve as important 'buffers' in preventing mental ill-health.1 While interacting with and observing children, make a habit of tuning in to possible stressors and advocating for services to counteract stressors and build competencies (e.g. bereavement support groups, participation in after-school clubs).2
1 Catalano, R. F., Hawkins, D., Berglund, M. L., Pollard, J. A., & Arthur, M. W. (2002). Prevention science and positive youth development: Competitive or cooperative frameworks? Journal of Adolescent Health, 31, 230-239.
2 Bazyk, S. (Ed.). (2011). Mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention with children and youth: A guiding framework for occupational therapy. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.