How to Deal with your Child’s Mental Illness

How to deal with your child’s mental illness?

child's mental illness

Image by Tyrone Lambert from Pixabay

In recent years, people have become more open to discussing mental illness. This is a wonderful thing, as it not only increases awareness, but it encourages those who suffer from mental illness to speak up and get help. To this day, almost two-thirds of today’s youth suffer from mental health problems and they have yet to receive the help they need. 

As a parent, you would want to make sure that your child is happy and healthy, and if they suffer from any mental health problem, you might worry about how you can handle it. However, we now have a better understanding of mental illness and what we can do to cope with the situation. 

So, here are some tips to help you deal with your child’s mental illness.

Understand and process the diagnosis

The first thing you need to do once your child has been properly diagnosed with a mental illness by a professional is to accept the situation. Learn exactly what the diagnosis is, as you would need to have a thorough understanding of your child’s needs. Mental illness affects everyone differently and comes in many forms: from anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to schizophrenia, autism, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The symptoms can appear similar as they each affect the way someone feels, thinks, and behaves. Make sure you consult your doctor to ensure you thoroughly understand the condition and are able to process the diagnosis and accept the changes you would need to make from here on out. 

Seek resources

It may seem frightening to deal with at first, but you are still bound to have a healthy and happy life with your family. Your child’s mental illness does not have to affect the quality of their life at all. There are many types of resources to opt in to ease the situation. Depending on the child’s age, the resources you seek will vary. If the child is young, then the parents will be more involved in the process of handling day-to-day tasks and issues. However, with teenagers, the goal of the parents should be to help them develop independence and functionality to be able to cope on their own. Therapists at recommend emotional support animals for someone struggling with mental illness at any age to help them cope. Animals really help to soothe and comfort children with mental health problems, and they continue to emotionally benefit them as they grow up.

Establish a supportive environment

You will need to get support to accommodate your child’s needs, as taking on the task yourself may be overwhelming. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Consult your mental health professional whenever you need to and seek their advice on how to establish a supportive environment. Some doctors encourage one or two sessions of family therapy to make the communication process easier; the whole family is affected when one member suffers from mental illness so a group session can help everyone manage. This is especially necessary if the child has siblings; it would help them understand why their brother or sister may be getting more attention or a different set of rules to follow. Aside from surrounding yourself with a supportive group, it is vital that you maintain a space for open communication and constant dialogue. As a parent, you would need to do your research to understand all potential symptoms and ask your child how they are feeling, as well as get them to identify their emotions. As you deal with mental illness, you would need to aid your child in dealing with situations, too. They will rely on you to help them manage everything from emotions and behavior to social interactions. 

Don’t put pressure on yourself

Parents will naturally feel overwhelmed by the responsibility and fear of what is next to come. As parents, we want to feel that we are doing everything we can, which can cause us to stress ourselves out when we feel like our best is not good enough. But the most important thing to do in this situation is not to put pressure on yourself, or else you won’t be able to cater to your child’s needs. Give yourself time to adapt to your new routine. It’s okay to make mistakes; you will get the hang of it eventually. So, whenever you feel like you are not making the right decisions or coping well, remind yourself that you love your child and that it’s a  learning for both of you. 

If your child is diagnosed with a mental health problem, it is not the end of the world. It is easily manageable with the right resources and a supportive environment. Once you understand the diagnosis, you can then process it and begin to discover the ways that will make it easier for you and your child to cope.

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