Four Tips to Cope with Childhood and Adolescent Mental Illness in Summer

14110068_sMany kids dread having to get up and go to class every morning throughout the school year. But for children with ADHD, a regimented routine can actually prove beneficial. In fact, the summer with its laid back and carefree schedule may actually present far greater challenges for ADHD children than the remaining months of the year.

Some children who need medication to boost focus while in school may be afforded some time off during the summer if their ADHD is not severe, says Ohio based psychiatrist Peter Zafirides. He adds, however, that the transition off medications may take some adjustment. Additionally, because of the lack of structure during the summer, symptoms of ADHD such as moodiness, anxiety, and petulance can be exacerbated. In a recent article on Zafirides offers some tips to help kids and young adults with mental illness have a healthy and productive summer.

  1. Spend time outside and enjoy nature

  2. Minimize time in front of the television, including video games

  3. Participate in activities that get the body moving

  4. Don’t neglect proper sleep

While we normally associate summer with emotions such as happy and carefree, this is not the case for everyone. In fact, many health professionals advise that mental health conditions like depression may be more prominent in the summer due to loneliness or boredom. According to William Oswald who heads Summit Malibu, a California based behavior and addiction treatment facility, people have an easier time keeping their minds occupied when they are busy.

Maintaining some summer structure can help keep symptoms of mental illness at bay. Depending on the age group, kids can get involved in play groups, apply for a part-time job, or participate in summer education or internship programs.

Zafirides says the key to keeping parents and kids with ADHD on the same page is to have a discussion as summer commences and talk about the things that each would like to accomplish. Also, having set, regular talks that are not confrontational which address mood shifts and behavior changes can help.

Before making any decisions to reduce or stop taking medications, parents should first consult with their child’s doctor. Family Guidance Center also serves as a place of support for mental health conditions of all kinds, and can provide an assessment if a child has symptoms that may indicate ADHD. To learn more about ADHD or to find out ways you can support your children during the summer months, contact Family Guidance Center.