One of the more creative and engaging ways to help children and teens gain control of their mental health challenges is to make a "Mental Health Box." In the pictures above and below, you will see examples of a client created "Anger Control Box." This concept can be applied to other topics including anxiety, depression, and self-esteem struggles.
During session, clients and I talk about activities that bring them joy or help them relax. We work together to create a list of these topics. Additionally, as we are creating these topics, clients and I are working on skill- building to cope with various struggles. After compiling this list of activities, skills, and additional suggestions made by myself or their parents, we are ready to build. Clients are encouraged to find a shoe box at home and to make a design on the box that is interesting to them. Above, you can see that the client created an anger control box using a popular character who struggles with anger.
Inside the box, we can find a couple of helpful items. This client was creative with how he would select from the box and with the help of his parents, was able to create a spinner to help him select which activity he should do when upset. As seen on the spinner, some skills like deep breathing, using a mantra, and muscle relaxation are there; some activities the client likes such as using an activity book and building are present, and finally some parent suggested ideas like exercise can also be found.
To use the box, when the client is triggered she is encouraged by their parents to take a break and go to their designated location to use their anger box. The client will use activities in the box until they feel like they are calm enough to handle the situation.. This coping technique is an important skill for children and teens to learn. We do not have to solve problems instantly and sometimes taking a break to think about things and regain our thoughts gives us greater clarity to what our options are.
When a box is created for a different obstacle like anxiety, we use many of the techniques in place to help calm the individual down. For depression, the actives may involve interacting with others or helping the individual bring structure back into his day. Mental health boxes are a diverse and creative way to deal with one's struggles. No two mental health boxes are the same, as each one is individualized to the person who creates it. Additionally, these boxes call for the child or teen to collaborate with their parents when creating the box, which helps generate discussion about the topics or struggles that in the past they may have been unwilling to share with their parents.
One final note on mental health boxes: if you look at the spinner above, you will see that "Emojis" is an option. This may seem a bit odd, but I always encourage clients to add something to the box that will make them laugh. Sometimes just taking a break to laugh can change the entire dynamic of a situation!
If you would like more information on mental health boxes or would like to get some help with creating your own, please click on the make an appointment button or contact option to reach out.
Have a great rest of your day and thanks for reading!