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When You, the Parent, Suspect Your Child May be Facing Mental Illness

Mental Health 11If you, as a parent, suspect problems with your child’s physical health you don’t ignore those feelings. The same should be true if you feel concern over your child’s mental health. If you observe changes in your child which cause you worry don’t push those feelings aside, instead take a close look and be prepared to talk with someone else about what you see.

If you suspect the possibility of mental illness, here are some things to look for:

  • Poor academic performance – especially if your child did fine in the past
  • Aggression
  • Significant mood swings
  • Social withdrawal, anxiety, sadness
  • Trouble dealing with close relationships
  • Changes in appetite or sleep pattern
  • Threats of self-harm or harm to others
  • Chronic drug or alcohol use

If you notice one or more of the above without any obvious explanation then:

  1. Talk to your doctor. Let them know what you’ve observed and be honest about your concerns regarding mental health. The doctor can conduct a full physical exam in order to rule out other possible explanations for your child’s symptoms.
  2. Talk to the school. Teachers and faculty at your child’s school spend a great deal of time interacting with your child. Get their input.
  3. Talk to a mental health professional. You can ask your doctor for a referral or you could ask for the recommendation of your pastor or other trusted friend. The specialist can conduct an assessment which will help identify or rule out mental illness.
  4. Talk to other parents with children who have mental illness. It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a support system when a child has any kind of illness, including mental illness.

If you suspect that your child may be struggling emotionally or behaviorally in ways that could be linked to mental illness contact our professional staff at Family Guidance. We can help with everything from assessment to treatment to providing family support.

Why is Treating Mental Health Issues Just as Important as Your Physical Health?

It is common practice to treat cold or flu symptoms. The options for Vitamin C supplements, coughHappy 2 drops and preventative flu shots are widely available. What about mental illness, do people treat it like their physical health and seek out treatment? Approximately one in every four adults in the United States has symptoms of a mental illness yet many don’t seek the help they need.

There are many studies that prove taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Think of it this way: We go to annual checkups with our family physician, our dentist and our ophthalmologists, so why don’t we routinely check up on our mental health as well?

One reason to take care of your mental health is because it leads to better physical health. A study conducted in 2012 found that among those individuals who have a mental illness, most do less for their physical health then those who do not have a mental illness (i.e. not partaking in a healthy exercise routine or eating a balanced diet). Ultimately, their mental health has a direct, negative effect on their physical health.

Another reason? Your career. Studies have confirmed that over 70 percent of individuals with mental illness have an annual income of $20,000 or less. Many with mental illness are unable to work in certain environments or require multiple leaves of absence from their job.

Because research has found that over 40 million Americans live with mental health issues, there are currently more studies, and therefore, knowledge, about the disease. This means there are many resources available through your doctor, online health websites and family members. Family Guidance in St. Joseph is one of those resources for you. Contact us or visit our website today if you are someone you know has symptoms of a mental illness.