FOTR - Families on the RoadZion NP

Helping Your Child Through Mental Health Struggles

Mental health issues affect everyone at one time or another in life, but for some people, their struggles are tougher and more complex. Since the late 2000s, studies have shown that there has been an increase in depression and other mental health problems in teenagers and children. While this problem has always been there, this spike has made it all the more apparent that these young people are feeling vulnerable, targeted by bullies, and under more pressure than ever. If your child is suffering from mental health or you're worried that there may be something going on, here are a few ways you can help to support them through it.

Patience
If your child is struggling with their mental health, they might at times lash out at you or withdraw. When you're trying to talk to them, listen to them and offer them help. When asking a simple question, anticipate that they may react badly and that these reactions might be hurtful to you or make you angry. While bad behavior shouldn't be rewarded or ignored, try to be patient with them and take a moment to think before you react. The calmer your response to their actions is, the more likely you will be able to diffuse difficult situations. Don't push them to talk to you either; although you might be concerned about their feelings and thought process, let them come to you when they're ready to talk about it.

Treatment
There are many different mental health issues that your child could be struggling with, and they might be battling with more than one problem. Take the time to educate yourself on these issues and encourage your kid to get professional help. You should never force them to take any treatment they're uncomfortable with, but getting the medical and psychological support they need is important. You might even want to consider looking at specialist clinics that focus on certain issues. For example, edentreatment.com is a clinic that helps to support those suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders.

Positive Reinforcement
Common mental health conditions include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and PTSD. If your child is struggling with any of these or similar issues, it's highly likely that they don't see themselves in a positive light. Negative thoughts are more powerful than positive and that is why it's easy for them to take over. Offer them positive reinforcements to help counteract their negative opinions of themselves and, hopefully, help them to see things differently. It won't happen overnight, but over time, these kind words could make a big difference.

Distractions
Without putting too much pressure on them, try to get your child involved in fun activities and to spend time with family. It will help to take their mind off of things even if only for a little while, offering some respite. Encouraging them to engage in a hobby, sport, or other activity they enjoy could be a great way to make them smile and be a positive distraction.

Being a parent is hard, and you will never stop worrying about the health and wellbeing of your child. Although you might not be able to fix the problem yourself, offering your child support as they battle with their mental health issues will be a big help and let them know how much you care.