How is your child's mental health?
By Tammer Attallah, MBA, LCSW
Jun 2, 2020
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Your child’s mental health may not be something you think about often. You may not even realize it’s an issue. The sad fact is that almost 8 million kids in the U.S. suffer from a mental health disorder. And it’s not just angsty teenagers either. Nearly one in six elementary school children are affected by mental health issues.
But it doesn’t matter if your child is six or sixteen, when they’re struggling, they need help. Unless you know what to look for and what to expect, you won’t be able to help your child get the help they need.
As a parent, you likely don’t want to think about your child having depression or anxiety, just like you don’t want them to have to deal with diabetes or asthma. But these issues can affect your child.
Here are some common mental health concerns.
All children may display some tendency of certain mental health symptoms. One of the first steps in getting help for your child is to be aware of their symptoms and the impact on their social abilities, academics, and self-esteem. This can give you a solid foundation for seeking help.
It’s unlikely your child will be able to recognize they’re dealing with something like depression or anxiety. As a parent, you have a unique ability to be aware of their symptoms so you can seek help. The following symptoms may be a sign that your child may struggle with a mental illness. Look for the following:
When your child is dealing with mental illness, it’s your job to seek help. They may not have the ability or inclination to ask for help. The first thing you can do is to talk to your child’s doctor. Create an open dialogue with your child’s pediatrician. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns. Your child’s doctor can:
In addition to seeking help from your child’s doctor, you can support your child in other ways. This might include:
Mental illness is difficult for many parents to accept. No one wants to admit their child is struggling with something as big and scary as an eating disorder or schizophrenia. But readily admitting your child has a problem is often the first big step to helping them find the help they need. Treatment works!