Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka has been an outspoken advocate of mental health. Now, as a new mom, she focuses on making sure parents and their kids have access to resources that fit everyone’s needs.
Osaka serves as the lead community health advocate at Modern Health, a mental health platform designed to support an employee’s entire family. Osaka welcomed a daughter this month, but her trip to children’s mental health It began over a year ago when she joined Modern Health in an effort to help destigmatize mental health, especially in communities of color, and educate adults and children about mindfulness tools like meditation.
“Growing up, I kept quiet about my feelings, and particularly the times when I felt anxious or just wasn’t myself,” Osaka says. “I am honored to work with Modern Health to help children, parents and caregivers with mental health. These resources may even help my daughter grow.”
For Dr. Adusei, a child clinical psychologist and clinical strategy manager at Modern Health, her own experience with clients has made it clear that parents need help opening a dialogue about mental health, and their children need wellness resources, too. .
“We need to make these conversations more accessible,” says Dr. Adusei. “A big slice of the pie for a working parent is eaten up by worries about their kids and things going on at home, and there’s just less room to show up and focus on work.”
According to the Pew Research Center, four in ten American parents with children under the age of 18 report feeling extremely or very concerned that their children may have problems with anxiety or depression. This trumps concerns like drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, and getting in trouble with the police.
Children can also feel the effects of parental anxiety: Studies in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and the American Journal of Psychiatry found that children of parents with anxiety disorder are four to six times more likely to develop the Same upheaval in his life. . Children of parents with depression are three to four times more likely to develop depression.
“Employees are connected to entire social systems, with a family and a community,” says Dr. Adusei. “The connection between parental mental health and child mental health is very clear, and we want to make sure we have different services that can address that.”
Dr. Adusei encourages employers to look for mental health benefits that include age and experience. Modern Health, for example, offers clinical therapy, psychiatry, and medication management and training for the entire employee family, ensuring that members have access to doctors who specialize in children and adolescents, as well as couples. Dr. Adusei and Osaka also point out that another vital element to care is providing spaces where families can feel comfortable exploring their concerns, which Modern Health hopes to cultivate through live sessions with experts and members.
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For example, Modern Health launched a series of virtual events called “Family Huddle” where experts can help families overcome different mental health challenges. The first meeting was hosted by Osaka and Dr. Adusei and focused on how families can begin to develop positive mental health habits together. Osaka led the audience through meditations designed for children. Osaka, who wishes she had formed this habit earlier in life, is confident that meditation can help children begin to form a better relationship with their feelings.
“At first, meditation intimidated me, but then I started meditating regularly and it allowed me to start my day with a purpose instead of a point of anxiety,” says Osaka. “There are so many kids struggling with mental health like me. They need help before they panic. Meditations can help kids slow down, focus on their breathing, and think about their feelings and consider how they are reacting to them. “
Dr. Adusei reminds employers and parents that children are facing unprecedented events as issues like climate change, mass shootings, and political unrest occupy their social media 24/7. Parents and children shouldn’t have to face all of this alone.
“We are seeing a huge increase in the youth mental health crisis,” says Dr. Adusei. “But it’s 100% natural to have a human response to these horrible things happening in our world. I ask parents to apply this logic to themselves as well: We’re experiencing stressors that we never thought we needed to deal with.”
Parents and their children need resources and a community where they can explore how they feel. Both Osaka and Dr. Aduei agree that benefits like this are a win for employers and employees, as better mental health equals a better, more productive workplace.
“I’m already feeling the stress of parenthood,” Osaka says. “I can only imagine the mental health cost faced by many working parents on a daily basis. For working parents to have complete peace of mind, it is important that their children and dependents have access to mental health care.”