The prevalence of mental health problems in today’s world are alarming, and our children’s state of mental health is no different. The National Institute of Mental Health states that “just over 20 percent (or 1 in 5) children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.” This doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do to help your child if you believe they are struggling with a mental health problem. There are practical steps you can take to make a positive impact on your child.
If you think you have a child who is dealing with a mental health issue, the first step is to recognize the warning signs. According to the Mayo Clinic (full article here), warning signs that your child might have a mental health condition include:
- Mood changes
- Intense feelings
- Behavior changes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained weight loss
- Physical symptoms
- Physical harm
- Substance abuse
The next step in helping a child with mental health problems is finding the right people to talk to. Here are a few good places to start:
- If your child is in school, talk to their teacher. Ask them if they’ve seen worrisome changes in behavior. They may be able to give you their observations about what they see in your child. It is possible they will confirm your thoughts or will be able to give you additional insight from their experience with children.
- Talk to your child’s doctor or healthcare provider. This is an important step as your healthcare provider can be a great resource for finding reliable information. Share the information that you have gathered from their teacher or other sources.
- Ask if your child needs to be seen by a specialist. Some doctors will refer you to a specialist who has experience with your child’s certain type of mental health issue. They will be able to give you further resources and insights into your child’s behavior and how you can help them.
There are also many great resources out there on how to parent well when your child has a mental health problem. Here are some articles of the most common health issues that we have found. These can be a good way to hear from other professionals and parents on how they take practical steps to helping their children.
- Parenting a Child with Depression – https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/depression/parenting-child-with-depression/
- Helping Our Children Overcome Anxiety – http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/helping-our-children-overcome-anxiety/
- Child ADHD: Managing Your Condition – http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/adhd_pediatric/living_with/managing_your_condition.aspx
- Parenting a Bipolar Child – http://www.kristen-mcclure-therapist.com/parentingabipolarchild.html
Like many health problems, the sooner you recognize a mental health problem, the sooner you can treat it and begin to enjoy life again with your child.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this week is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Make sure to share this article with those who you think will find it helpful!