Raising a Child with Mental Health Condition

Has your child recently been diagnosed with a mental illness? As a parent, are you at a loss over how to go about raising your son or daughter?

Mental illness is a tricky subject and becomes all the more difficult when it’s affecting someone whose mind’s still developing. You know well your child has a strong chance of growing into a healthy, prospering individual.

However, your concern lies in whether or not this mental illness (and your reaction to it) will cause further issues along the way. You want the best for your child and you desire to give him/her the best parenting possible.

In some instances, mental illness is only short-lived. For example, after an extremely stressful situation, you might find yourself feeling strong waves of anxiety. Or, some parents have even been known to feel sensations of depression in the week or so following their child’s birth.

But other conditions are either long-term or lifelong and will need consistent treatment throughout a person’s life. These include:

● Bipolar disorder

● Chronic anxiety

● Chronic depression

● Schizophrenia

Still, with the right support system and access to treatment, no matter what the mental health condition is, people can recover and go onto live happy, fulfilling lives.

With that, the question comes up: as a parent, what can you do to give your child the best?

The most important step you can make as a parent is developing a connection with your child. One of which will allow you to talk about their mental illness openly. Parents go about this through different means. Some like to put kid-friendly terms behind the diagnosement label, such as, “your mind’s like a racecar” for kids with ADHD. Other parents decide to use the terms a doctor gives.

Whatever your preference, talking to your child about their mental illness will not only help them understand their situation better but also give them a support system. By showing you’re there, the negative aspects of mental disorders will be easier for your child to fight through.

With that, you’re going to want to look into finding a mental health professional, The right doctor - preferably, a psychiatrist who specializes in children - will give you the opportunity to learn all about what’s actually happening within your child’s brain.

Knowledge which can prove valuable in those conversations you’ll have with your son or daughter. Furthermore, a psychiatrist directs you on the right treatment path.

This treatment could include different forms of medication. But more so, it’ll probably suggest your child sees a therapist.

You may be thinking your child is too young for something like this, but it’s been discovered that children even in preschool can benefit from something known as play therapy. If your child is older, there are psychotherapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Both therapies are designed for people to better understand their emotions and how to properly express them.

As you go through the process of discovering the right treatment and supporting your child, don’t be afraid to track their moods. By simply observing the way your son or daughter reacts to certain environments and situations, you’ll be learning something new that’ll play key importance in treatment.

Even more so, you’ll be developing a better understanding of how your child’s mental illness is affecting their day-to-day activities. You’ll be able to pinpoint certain triggers which can cause an emotional reaction.

As already mentioned, mental illness can be tricky. And there’s no set of rules to follow when it comes to how to handle your child’s condition. Everyone works differently and the only way to give your child the proper treatment is by observing, getting involved, and offering all your support.

If you’re looking for more information on how to better raise a child with a mental health condition, MentalHealth.gov offers a great resource.