Today we are talking about mental illness! Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 31: You’re invited to get engaged in the world’s biggest conversation about mental health. Bell Let’s Talk is a wide-reaching, multi-year program designed to break the silence around mental illness and support mental health all across Canada. If you suspect that your child is having mental health issues, then it is important to intervene as soon as possible. Your child may be excessively afraid of something, uninterested in their normal activities, experience big mood swings or be very irritable. Recognizing these signs early as a parent is especially important as there is a strong link between these diagnoses and substance abuse. If you suspect that your child or teen is having an issue, here are some steps you can take to help.
Schedule an Evaluation
Your child should be seen as soon as possible. The sooner they are seen the sooner they can be diagnosed. Then, appropriate treatment can be started before the problem gets even worse. Many children and teens who are struggling with issues turn to drugs and alcohol to try to make the pain go away. The number is even higher for those with dual diagnosis as they often have an even harder time coping with the world. Therefore, getting appropriate treatment plan as early as possible may help stop a substance abuse problem. If your child’s drug problem is too much for you to handle alone, you should seek professional help from intensive outpatient programs to see if it will help. Any parent would agree that the safety of their child is the number one priority, even as your kids grow into young adults.
Educate yourself about Mental Illness
Many conditions are still hidden behind a shroud of mystery. Do not let this happen to your child. Learn all you can about their condition. There are different ways to help a teenager with anxiety as opposed to a child with bipolar. Once you are armed with good information, then become an advocate for your child. You may want to talk to other family members about your child’s diagnosis so that they understand what is going on. Furthermore, you may have to become your child’s advocate at school as many schools try to ignore issues putting more pressure on your child. Teens may turn to substance abuse in an attempt to fit in with their peers.
Set Limits for your children
Children who are diagnosed with mental health issues still need to have limits set for them. The difference is that the limits need to take into consideration things that are beyond the child’s control. Being firm and consistent is vital to helping your child cope. Be open to listening to them, and give them advice on how they can handle different situations. Try to keep everyone working with the child using the same behavior modification programs as consistency can really help them. Researchers find that sticking to a routine can be very beneficial for children and teens with mental health diagnoses. Additionally, encourage your child to learn as much as possible about their own diagnosis, and to find ways to cope with it in a positive way such as eating a healthy diet.
Take Care of Yourself
Dealing with your child’s mental health issues may seem like a full-time job, but take time out to take care of yourself as well. Arrange adequate care so that you can spend a part of each week participating in an activity that you enjoy. Since these diagnoses are often genetic watch yourself and other family members for behaviors as well. Remember that you cannot do a good job of taking care of others unless you take care of yourself first, so make that a top priority. Advocating for your own health will serve as a strong role model for your child to take care of their health.
Learning to take mental illness seriously is the first step in becoming your child’s strongest advocate. Too many parents choose to ignore the symptoms until it is too late. Start with your primary care physician, but insist on a referral to a specialist. Your child is depending on you to take care of them and yourself.
Each time you tweet this article on January 31 using #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5¢ towards mental health initiatives.