How parents can help children with mental disorders

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.

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