What You Can Do If Your Child Is Struggling With Mental Illness
Parents instinctively wish to protect their children from all types of pain. This is true whether the pain in question is physical, mental or emotional. This instinct will kick into high gear if you have a child that experiences any type of mental illness. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to minimize the effects of your child's illness and help him or her maintain a sense of normalcy in his or her life.
Be Accepting of Your Child's Mental IllnessA report from the National Institute of Mental Health states that 1 in 5 teenagers aged 13 to 18 will battle a serious mental illness. It is important that your child understands that he or she is not alone in this battle, and you will fight it with him or her every step of the way.
Once your child receives a diagnosis that confirms a mental illness, explain to him or her that the condition is a common one, and there is no need for shame. If depression is the diagnosis, it will help to know that 12.5 percent of teens have experienced depression or currently struggle with it, so your child doesn't have to feel alone. You should also let your child know that you feel no differently about him or her, and nothing has changed between the two of you.
Educate Yourself and Do ResearchThe first actionable step in helping your child deal with a mental illness is to learn as much about the illness your child is battling as possible. Arming yourself with knowledge will help you better understand what is happening to your child and teach you the best ways to help him or her. There is a wealth of free information available from various organizations regarding these issues.
Discuss Drug IssuesIt is not uncommon for teens who suffer from mental illness to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. This will only compound the problem. It is likely the thought of using a dangerous or illegal substance has never crossed your child's mind, but do not make this assumption. Take a moment to sit with your child and fully explain the dangers of alcohol and drug use.
It can be devastating news when your child is diagnosed with an illness of any kind. However, a diagnosis of mental illness brings with it an additional set of challenges due to the stigma attached to it. You and your child should both know that being diagnosed with a mental illness does not lead to an inability to live a normal and happy life. The three tips above are excellent for getting you on your way to helping your child in his or her fight against mental illness.
Here’s another great article: Always Watching: Behaviors You May Not Realize You Are Modeling for Your Child