The Dental Center of Goshen
4024 Elkhart Road, Suite 15, Goshen, IN 46526

A Parent’s Resource Guide to Mental Health

Many adults deal with some form of mental illness that can interfere with their ability to live a normal and productive life. What may be surprising is that mental illness and mental disorders are more common in children than many people may realize. Some of the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders that children experience include anxiety, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and depression. What may be shocking to many parents is that other mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder, are also problems that can be diagnosed in children: These problems are not just reserved for adults. Often, parents chalk up unusual habits, thoughts, or actions to being normal childhood behavior because they are not aware of the warning signs that could be clues that their child is in fact suffering from a mental illness. When it comes to ensuring that your child is mentally healthy, there are several important warning signs and signals to be aware of. Fortunately, with the right treatment, most mental health problems in children can be resolved as long as the right treatment is administered over the long term.

It is imperative that parents pay close attention to some of the most common signs and symptoms of a possible mental disorder. If your child exhibits unusually severe mood swings or is suddenly sleeping too often or not getting enough sleep each night, it could be an indicator of severe depression. Children who are struggling in school could be dealing with attention deficit disorder or anxiety. An unusual fear of gaining weight is an indicator of a possible eating disorder. Outbursts of anger or conflict that starts happening more frequently between the child and their peers, teachers, and parents can also be a sign that something is wrong. Since very young children may not be able to express their feelings, it’s up to parents to pay close attention to these and other warning signs. Kids who withdraw and become fearful over small things or cry more frequently than normal could also be suffering from a mental disorder. For teens, using alcohol and drugs can be a cry for help that is certainly cause for concern. Talking about death more often is also a serious red flag. Self-harm such as banging their head on the wall or table or even something more serious like cutting themselves is undoubtedly a mental health-related warning that should be addressed immediately.

For parents who are concerned about the mental well-being of their child, it’s always advised that you seek the help of a mental health professional. Be sure you tell them all of the signs and symptoms you’ve been noticing so they can make a more accurate diagnosis. Your child will most likely be referred to a specialist who deals with mental illnesses in children so you can be advised of the best treatment route. In the meantime, parents should try their best to be as patient as possible and offer emotional support to their children. Offer to spend more time with your child, and help create the most stress-free environment possible at home. Be aware that treating a mental illness is an ongoing process that may require medication, therapy, and other treatments, and it cannot be completely cured. It is also important for parents to reach out to others dealing with similar situations so they can get the support they need. Don’t be afraid to sit down and talk to your child about mental health and ask them how they are feeling. Create a home environment where kids can be open and honest about their concerns, fears, and personal difficulties. Once a mental disorder has been diagnosed, you can begin to work on a method of treatment that will help ensure that your child will be able to go on to live a happy, healthy life.

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