When your child has the cold or flu, it’s relatively easy to take care of them. You know what the symptoms are, and your child can usually explain how they are feeling. Medications can be prescribed and with a little rest, chicken soup, and snuggles, eventually your child will be feeling good again. When something is affecting a child’s mental health, it is never as easy. Parents may even find it difficult to empathize with their child because their pain may be less obvious, and the symptoms misunderstood. Because of this, many children affected by an emotional issue may never even receive clinical care.
An article on the Child Mind Institute website debunks the myths about child mental health issues and instead focuses on getting the help that children need. If you have questions about your child’s behavior or emotional health, Association for Childcare Physicians can speak with you about any concerns and help navigate the next steps. Listed here is an overview of some mental health myths that will help you understand your child better.
Myth: Mental health issues in your child is a personal weakness.
If your child acts overly aggressive or seems anxious over what may seem to be simple tasks, this is not necessarily a sign they are weak. In many instances, children that learn to cope and overcome their mental health issues are some of the strongest, most successful individuals in their adult lives. With proper tools and their parent’s help, an effective diagnosis and treatment plan can help your child thrive.
Myth: Mental disorders will damage your child for life.
A stated above, just because your child has a mental health disorder, doesn’t mean they can’t be happy. When a child’s symptoms are recognized and treated early-on in their life, he/she has a great outlook for developing into a successful and contented teenager and adult. Your child needs to understand that they are not alone and there is help for what they are feeling and going through.
Myth: Bad parenting caused their disorder.
Parents assume the mental health disorder somehow was caused at home and because of their parenting. This common myth is just not true. A home environment and relationships DO help or hinder a child’s care and recovery, but in many cases forms of depression, learning disorders and anxiety are biological. If you are a parent that has a child with a mental health issue, your love and support is one of the best ways to ensure your child is going to be ok.
Myth: Therapy for kids isn’t effective.
Kids that are suffering from a mental health issue don’t have the tools to deal with their feelings like an adult would. They have minimum life experiences and skills that don’t encourage self-discovery. Therapy can be one of the best, most effective ways to help a child heal. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the best ways to teach a child a new way to relate to their stress and understand it. Children with depression, anxiety and even ADHD can benefit from the right treatment plan. If a problem arises, treatment within the first several years is shown to be the most successful in children.
Myth: Kids don’t need medication for mental disorders.
Not every treatment plan includes medication. Many therapists use care when deciding whether or not to include it, and it’s not a “one size fits all” solution to mental health disorders. A child suffering from a mental health issue isn’t unlike a child with seizures or another health condition. If the medication can help a psychiatric illness, it should be considered as part of the treatment.
Myth: Kids can outgrow their mental health problem.
The truth is, a mental health issue isn’t something that just “goes away” when the child grows up. Instead, children given the proper tools will be able to manage their mental health disorder more effectively. Studies show in most cases, problems left untreated as a child become more challenging to treat as an adult. A child’s brain before the age of 14 is more adaptable to change therefore therapy can be extremely beneficial when it happens sooner rather than later.