How parents can help children with mental disorders

Parenting is a challenging task that never ends. Parents have to deal with their children’s behavior, mood fluctuations, personality changes, health issues and education. The role becomes even more challenging during the years of adolescence when, due to external influences and brain development, they become more vulnerable emotionally and mentally. The difficulties for parents multiply when there is a risk of their child developing a mental health disorder. Worrying about the triggers and their child’s everyday functioning that can deteriorate their mental well-being can leave parents overwhelmed with fear.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), half of mental disorders occur by age 14 and 75 percent by 24 years. Nearly 20 percent of the American youth aged 13-18 live with a mental health condition whereby, 11 percent have a mood disorder, 10 percent have a behavior or conduct disorder and 8 percent suffer from an anxiety disorder. These figures highlight the probability of life-long struggle with mental health conditions.

Lack of knowledge and access to treatment facilities heighten parents’ worry as they see their dream of a healthy and happy life for their children falling apart. Some parents are also anxious about the efficacy of treatment procedures, credibility of doctors and assurance of long-lasting recovery with minimal chances of relapse.

Alternative treatment procedures

In the age of quick fixes for every problem, popping a pill may seem to be the easiest and quickest solution for treating mental illnesses. According to an earlier report by IMS Health, a leading company that provides information, services and technology for the health care industry, in 2014, about 8.4 million children (till the age of 17) were prescribed psychiatric drugs for bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This makes experts wonder if there are safer ways to tackle mental illnesses, at least in their early stages, where medication may not be the primary method of treatment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports behavioral therapy as the first strategy for treating preschoolers by changing the child’s physical and social environment to help him or her improve behavior. Behavioral therapy techniques include positive reinforcement by complimenting and rewarding good behavior, time-out by removing access to desired activity due to unwanted behavior, response cost by withdrawing privileges and rewards due to unacceptable behavior as well as token economy where rewards for good behavior and consequences for undesired behavior can be combined. Such practices may help parents understand that their child’s behavior may not be due to a chemical imbalance, but are in fact ways in which children cope with situations. Such therapies also benefit parents in understanding their children better and fostering a good relationship.

Parents also play a major role in deciding the treatment approaches for their children’s mental well-being. Clinicians and therapists cannot work in isolation, without parents’ consent and acceptance of the treatment modality. The more parents are involved in non-pharmacological approaches, the greater is the insight into what’s happening in their child’s lives. An uninformed parent may be misguided by an untrained and irresponsible health care provider, who may recommend drugs in the initial stage even though the situation might be controlled using psychotherapies. It is highly recommended that parents consult good psychiatrists and professional mental health service providers in order to avail higher quality services for the betterment of their children’s lives.

Gift children a healthy life

Mental health disorders that affect a child at an early stage can continue into adulthood marring the overall quality of life. If left untreated, a child may develop suicidal tendencies. However, with timely action and informed advice from experts, parents can save their children from destruction and help them lead a responsible and happy life.

If you know someone who is battling a mental illness and needs effective treatment, the Texas Mental Health Recovery Helpline can connect you to professional mental health service providers at the finest mental health treatment centers in Texas who can suggest treatment programs tailored to your needs. Call us on our 24/7 helpline (866) 596-4708 or chat with an expert for information on the best mental health treatment program in Texas.

Easy accessibility of firearms risky for youth with mental health problems

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2014, firearm injuries contributed to 63.7 percent suicides and 32.8 homicides. It also reported that in 2015, firearms were the most common method of suicide among American males. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), it was also the most common form of suicide among females      (33.4 percent) in the same year and accounted for nearly 50 percent of total suicides (22,018).

There is a close relationship between mental illness as a cause for suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts using firearms. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute has revealed that there are about 350 million guns in circulation in the U. S., which is approximately 113 guns for every 100 people. In 2014, nearly 4,300 young people aged 10-24 were victims of homicide. Further, one in three houses with kids have access to unlocked loaded guns. A new study by the researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine has found that teens and youths with a history of suicide attempt or mental health issues have easier access to firearms, either in their home or at a friend’s house.

The study was funded by the CDC and was presented during the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in May 2017. The study involved 1,100 youths aged 10-17 and 647 parents living in two Colorado communities with high risk for violence.

Key takeaways of study

The researchers made the following observations:

  1. Two percent of the youth reported to own a gun or have one in their possession while seven percent admitted that it was easy for them to get a gun. Nine percent were aware about how to acquire it and 15 percent said that they have at least one friend who owns a gun.
  2. Participants with higher risk for future violent behaviour were more likely to know from where to get a gun as compared to those not at risk (25 percent versus 5 percent) and more likely to have a friend who has a gun (40 percent versus 10 percent).
  3. Participants who attempted suicide were more than twice as likely to have a friend who owned a gun than those who did not attempt suicide (38 percent versus 16 percent).
  4. Youths suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, were twice as likely to say that getting a gun was easy as compared to those without any mental disorder.
  5. Participants whose parents owned a gun were three times more likely to confess that it was easy to get a gun compared to those whose parents do not own a gun.

The lead researcher, Eric Sigel, professor of paediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Adolescent Medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, believe that the high-risk category must be screened and counselled for their probability to have access to firearms so that the risks can be minimized. Parents should be careful enough to hide the guns in safe storage devices beyond the reach of their children.

Treatment for mental disorders

Mental disorders are closely linked to fatal outcomes. Patients often experience negative thoughts and emotions, which push them to taking drastic steps such as homicide or suicide. It is important for parents and teachers to recognize the warning signs in children and get them the required treatment. As Sigel said, “This is particularly important when considering that 68 percent of attackers in school shootings obtained the guns from their own home or that of a relative.”

If you or a loved one has any mental health issues, the Texas Mental Health Recovery Helpline can connect you to the best facilities providing evidence-based mental health disorders treatment in Texas as per your requirements. Call us at our 24/7 helpline (866) 596-4708 or chat online with one of our representatives in case you want to know more about mental health treatment program in Texas.

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