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Eating together is good for young people's mental health

21 February
Posted by:
Michael Grose

My twenty-five year old daughter works in the mental health field. It’s fascinating talking with her about young people, parenting, healthy lifestyles and other such issues when we get together.

On the weekend she reminded me of a very a salient point. Here it is.

The biggest single preventative factor for anxiety and depressive illnesses in young people is being in a family that has 5-6 shared meals together with the television and other communication devices off.

Mental health professionals aren’t sure why, but they hypothesise (rightfully, in my book) that it’s through eating and talking together that parents can monitor how young people are going. There’s also the talking element as well. It can be very therapeutic talking about what’s not so good about your life.

Young people when asked to choose one person that they’d talk with about life difficulties nominate a family member, followed by a friend.

To be more accurate, boys choose a family member first and a friend second, while girls are slightly more likely to confide in a friend with a family member coming a close second. Combine the figures for both genders and family comes first.

I know it’s difficult to get young people to talk to their parents, but it having a shared family meal 5 or 6 times a week is a good place to start. Otherwise, young people too easily drop out of their family and that’s not in their best interests at all.

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