Does my child have a mental health condition?

Many parents are struggling with this question and don´t know if there might be an issue, which needs to be taken more seriously than the usual complaints like oppositional behaviour, mood changes or body image issues during puberty for example.
In general, parents should seek advice/support as soon as possible, if their child is struggling in school, at home, with peers or all together for a while.

How can I get help?

  • Talking with your family and close friends
  • Talking to his/her teacher
  • Consulting your GP
  • Seeking professional help from a psychotherapist

BUT

  • Finding services off-putting, unappealing or frightening
  • Fear of stigma
  • Long waiting period if diagnostic or therapy is needed
  • Unaffordable services in the private sector, since no private health insurance

are all factors to avoid or delay professional support. It´s crucial to seek professional help if your resources seem to be limited and the symptoms deteriorate. Waiting until you or your child reaches a crisis makes the therapy process far more difficult.

You are not alone with those thoughts and feelings!

Following diagram shows how long it takes to receive help and that public support needs to improve.

You can download the full report about children and young people’s
mental health and wellbeing in the UK here:
https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/2018-09/CentreforMentalHealth_MissedOpportunities.pdf

Three-quarters of parents of children with a mental health problem seek help, but only one-quarter of children receive NHS support (Green et al.,2005)

Why does my child struggle?

Many different factors play a role if your child is experiencing a mental health condition.

During a diagnostic process, for example, the therapist will collect relevant data regarding resources and figure out with the parents and the child a potential development model. The least helpful thing is probably blaming yourself or others, despite maybe finding relief short term by doing so.

The diagram below gives an Idea of the diversity of factors in different areas.
Even if you as a parent are doing everything great, your child can still struggle because of many other criteria. However, as many resources you have, the more likely is it either to stay mentally healthy or to tackle the issues quite effectively.

(www.kidsmatter.edu.au/sites/default/files/public/images/Risk%20and%20protective%20factors.jpg)

How can I help my child?

Many times parents or children experience helplessness, anger, frustration combined with communication problems, focusing on negative aspects and feeling trapped in a vicious circle.

The following interventions are just a few examples which can help to reduce negative symptoms:

  • Exploring stress management techniques like MBSR for example https://bemindful.co.uk/teacher-profile/8004/
  • Embracing a growth mindset by praising positive work approach, not just the positive outcome/strength
  • Reinforcing only positive behaviour (Many parents reinforce unintentionally unwanted behaviour by giving their children for example attention for oppositional behaviour and forget to praise them if they behave well).
  • Don`t be ashamed or scared and be persistent, if professional help is needed

Read more about

“Practical strategies to nurture your child’s self-esteem and strengthen the relationship.”

in my next article.

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Published on 2018/12/07

Posted in: Children and Adolescents, Mental Health,