Being in the mental health profession for over 10 years and working specifically with children, teens and families has been very rewarding and at times daunting. It has been rewarding to see many individuals open up to the idea of therapy and actively participate in their own healing. The daunting part is seeing children and teens yearning to feel better but then often struggle with what coping tools to use to do so.

On their website, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) publishes statistics regarding children’s and teens’ mental health, warning signs to look for, and four things parents can do for their children. Since May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to expand on the four actions NAMI suggests that a parent can take to help their child.

NAMI recommends:

  1. Speaking to your child’s pediatrician
  2. Getting a referral for a mental health specialist
  3. Working with the school
  4. Connecting with other families who are going through similar issues.

 

Here are my recommendations based on what I have seen work with my clients in my practice:

  1. Talk to your teen about the changes in their behavior that you have observed. Let them know that you see their behaviors changing. Often time’s teens are unaware of their external expressions.
  2. Be an active listener. Don’t blame your child or think that they should just be able to get over it.
  3. Check with the teachers at your child’s school to see if they have notice anything different. This will help pinpoint if these behaviors show up in different environments of your child’s life.
  4. Contact your health insurance or child’s school counselor to obtain a list of mental health specialist.
  5. Contact mental health specialist and ask if they have a free consultation. If they do, set up an appointment and ask questions about how they go about addressing mental health issues specifically to what your child is dealing with.
  6. Finding a therapist can be hard. You have to make sure the therapist is a just right fit for your child and understanding the dynamics of your family.
  7. Talk to your child about the importance of mental health and the idea of seeing someone would be beneficial.
  8. Contact the Pediatrician to set up an appointment to keep them abreast of the changes in your child’s behavior and make sure every medical professional your child sees is on the same page.
  9. Your child is an extension of you. Check in with your own ways of dealing with your mental health and see if your coping techniques are healthy.
  10. This can be a difficult time for the parents and they may want to find their own therapist with whom to talk.

Taking care of mental health is a priority and should be exercised every day.

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