Mental health crises among US children & teens are on a steady rise and turning the lives of parents and children alike on their heads. While experts struggle to trace the root cause of spiked suicide rates, many people attribute these bouts of depression to the high-tech and socially-distanced world around us.
Despite these external forces’ role in erupting mental-health-related issues, most parents of mentally-ill children believe they’ve failed after their son or daughter is diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder. With this internalized shame and guilt in mind, psychologists nationwide have stepped in to reassure moms and dads everywhere that, sometimes, even the best parents can’t protect their children from depression and other mental health conditions.
If your child is experiencing any form of mental disorder, you’re not alone. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, approximately 17 percent of children aged six to 17 experience mental disorders. Fifty percent of these cases start by the age of 14 years.
When your child experiences symptoms of mental illness, your parenting style isn’t always to blame. Your brain is susceptible to diseases, just like any other part of your body. At times, your kid might break a limb, catch a cold, or develop a toothache. Do you wallow in self-pity, blaming yourself when these mental conditions make an appearance? No, most will make their child an appointment to see a doctor and follow their primary healthcare providers’ instructions. The same logic should apply to mental illness.
Much like any other ailment, you can’t always prevent mental illness from taking hold of your child’s life, but you can work to treat it. Take a proactive approach to your child’s depression using the tips highlighted below. Remember, a support system is essential in achieving recovery.
Help them find an in-network therapist
Once you spot signs and symptoms of mental disorder and your child’s primary healthcare provider recommends seeking counseling, you’ll need to help your child locate an in-network therapist.
Uninsured persons should shop for family health insurance plans on health insurance marketplaces like AHiX Marketplace. After all, paying out-of-pocket for weekly therapy appointments can become outrageously expensive.
Offer words of encouragement
If you have decided that therapy is the way to go, you’ll need to break the news to your child using terminology they understand. As a parent, it’s your best interest to prepare for instances where your child may become belligerent.
To de-escalate a high-tension situation, you need to maintain a calm demeanor and offer encouraging words as to why therapy is a worthwhile option. But how can you know what approach to take when discussing mental health counseling? The age of the child is a determining factor.
For preschool-aged kids, make it fun and inform them that they are going to the therapist’s office to play. You will most likely have to accompany them during these therapy sessions, given that their language and independence level is still developing.
For kids between the ages of five and ten, your child possesses a basic understanding of their emotional and behavioral challenges. Inform them that you have sought the services of a therapist to help them get better. Avoid any tone that will make the child feel stigmatized or blamed for the family dysfunction.
These soon-to-be adults likely understand what therapy is, eliminating the need for a conversation concerning mental health counseling basics for tweens and teens. With teenagers suffering from anxiety and depression, the most significant hurdle is reaching a point where they acknowledge they have a problem that requires professional help.
Failure to clear this hurdle may result in feelings of resentment, as these tweens and teens often perceive therapy sessions to be a punishment. This reluctance may end up making the sessions ineffective.
Collaborate with your child’s therapist
Cultivating a good relationship with the psychologist is pivotal for a successful outcome, better known as recovery. The first step to a healthy relationship is transparency. In your first meeting, talk to your therapist about issues beyond your child’s mental health. Talk about the family background, triggers that might have caused a change of behavior, and your expectations.
It’s also critical to disclose the self-care rituals you’ve encouraged in the past and still promote today. Ultimately, provide as much information as possible regarding your child’s tendencies.
Much like you’ll want to discuss your child’s personality traits, triggers, and emotional weak points, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your son’s or daughters’ treatment plan. Ask your therapist how long treatment is expected to take and how to measure progress. Keeping realistic expectations will help deter frustrations and misunderstandings.
Parents are key players in their child’s mental health. Therapists only spend a few minutes with your child, whereas parents spend the majority of the time with their kids. Therefore, as a parent, your all-rounded feedback will help the therapist in developing effective solutions. You can increase the likelihood of treatment success by completing the following tasks on a routine basis.
- Monitor your kid’s response to treatment
- Evaluate your child’s attitude towards therapy
- Assess whether your child’s depression is worsening
Effective communication plays a pivotal role in the common goal of managing your son’s or daughter’s mental health. It helps you articulate issues successfully and gives honest feedback to the therapist.
What to do when your child resists therapy
What if my child refuses to go for therapy? Before attempting to answer that question, you should start by identifying the resistance-causing factors. Maybe your child is worried about rejection, judgment, or the fear of the unknown.
Sometimes your child may reject routine therapy appointments because of unrelated reasons such as financial stress, family feuds, inconvenience, and other complaints. Pinpoint the root cause, and try to address it.
To abate resistance, you could also suggest that your child or teenager tries a different therapist. In most cases, children will refuse to attend therapy when they fail to connect with the first therapist. Getting the timing right also plays a critical role in persuading your kid to see a therapist. Try to coordinate your therapy conversations with your son or daughter’s good moods.
If the above hacks don’t succeed, try attending therapy sessions yourself. As a result, you’ll learn effective ways of connecting with your child, and you’ll be able to understand their hesitations concerning counseling better. Again, when leading by example, it shows that depression affects the whole family and allows the child to feel supported.
It’s critical to connect your child with the appropriate treatment plan. If therapy isn’t benefiting your loved one, it’s time you opted for a different treatment option. The aim is to keep trying until you successfully manage your child’s system and equip them with the necessary coping mechanisms.