When you begin to think your child has a mental health issue, you might put the blame on yourself. However, you are not the one to blame. You and your child are also not alone. One in six kids ages 6 to 17 in the United States have a mental health condition.
It’s important to seek help for your child when you think they might be struggling with mental health. Currently, there is an 11-year average gap between the time when symptoms appear and when youth receive mental health services. It can be hard to differentiate between typical teenage development and a deeper underlying issue. Furthermore, each child will have different symptoms of a mental health issue. These signs can include:
- Changes in behavior
- Drastic mood swings
- Eating more or less than usual
- Change in personality
- Withdrawing more than usual
- Signs of depression or anxiety
- Not wanting to leave home
The reasons a child develops a mental health condition also vary, from biology and heredity to home environment. Yet once again, you as the parent are not to blame. You are however the expert on your child. You know what is typical for their behavior and moods. The other expert you need to consult is a mental health professional. They can help assess what is happening with your child and find solutions.
Any time is a good time to create a foundation for healthy, productive conversations. Ask your child more than “How was school?” when they get home – you’ll likely get a response like “Fine.” Instead, ask questions like “Tell me one thing that made you sad today” or “What was one thing that was exciting at school?” You’ll get more thoughtful answers from your child, and they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you when serious things occur.
If you or your child thinks something is “off” or they have a mental health issue, they are going to look to you to see how you react. Healthy conversations also play a role in being more open and honest. And, of course, they don’t want to see you fearful or hurt when a mental health issue arises. It’s likely that they don’t know why it’s happening, and the symptoms could be confusing. They will look to you for guidance.
It doesn’t hurt to remind you one last time: It is not your fault. As a parent, you do all you can to help your child live the best life you can give them. And yet you can’t stop different struggles from happening. Mental health is one of those struggles your child might have to conquer.
For Stark County resources on mental health, visit StarkHelpCentral.com.