Mental Health Resources for Parents
You want your child to feel their happiest every day. However, chronic or sudden stressors can take a toll on their mental health. While these situations can be challenging to navigate, your children and family aren’t alone. As you’ll see, there are many free mental health resources for teens and parents alike.
Learn More About Supporting Your Children
As a parent or caregiver, you’re one of your child’s most dependable sources of guidance and support. Let them know you’re there for them by recognizing when they’re struggling and offering practical assistance.
Signs of Mental Health Challenges
Children and adolescents may have difficulty expressing their emotions, so it’s essential to recognize when they need help.
Look for the following signs:
- Sadness or isolation for more than two weeks
- Life-threatening behaviors, which may include having suicidal thoughts and gestures
- Engaging in activities that can harm themselves or others
- Intense anxiety that impacts their daily activities
- Mood swings
- Sudden behavioral or personality changes
Certain situations can be difficult for children to understand and cope with. Pay close attention to your child’s behavior if they’ve recently experienced life-changing events such as parent separation or moving to a new location or school.
What to Do Next
If you notice concerning behaviors, you should consult your child’s health care providers. They have the expertise and resources to give your child the care they need. These professionals include doctors, school nurses, primary care physicians and specialists.
Depending on the situation, your next step may be:
- Getting more information: Mental health is rarely straightforward, and it’s okay to have questions and concerns. Your child’s healthcare provider can offer more insight into their behaviors and symptoms.
- Seeking further evaluation: Ask their primary care physician if an evaluation is necessary and how to get in touch with a child behavior specialist.
- Consulting your child’s specialist: Your child’s specialist may have prior experience with their symptoms and can assist you directly or connect you with other professionals.
- Exploring treatment plans: Discuss possible treatments with your medical provider, such as therapy or medication.
How to Check In With Your Child
Discussing mental health regularly encourages children to be open and seek help when they need it. Try incorporating a quick check-in into your daily routine:
- Dedicate at least 15 minutes for a discussion in a safe, distraction-free environment.
- Ask open-ended questions and make sure your child is comfortable with and understands the topic.
- Listen openly and reserve feedback until after they’ve expressed their thoughts. You can also paraphrase what they said to ensure you’ve interpreted their words correctly.
- Validate their feelings and brainstorm solutions together, which can involve professional resources.
Common Mental Health Conditions
Children can experience a range of mental health conditions. While it’s best to consult a qualified health professional, educating yourself helps you recognize symptoms that you can bring up to your child’s doctor or psychologist.
Common conditions include:
- Anxiety: Persistent and intense worry that may affect your child’s home, school and social life. Anxiety disorders include phobias, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Depression: A mental health condition that involves feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities.
- Borderline personality disorder: Characterized by difficulty regulating thoughts and emotions. Children with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often have unstable personal relationships and exhibit symptoms like impulsivity and mood swings.
- Mood dysregulation: Marked by chronic irritability and constant tantrums. Children who experience mood dysregulation (DMDD) will express these symptoms consistently over time and in multiple settings.
- Self-harm and suicidal thoughts: Life-threatening behaviors that children may engage in to cope. A professional can help you pinpoint the cause and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Other Adolescent Challenges
Adolescents might face other challenges just for being themselves. Stigmas surrounding race and identity can impact your child’s happiness, relationships and health:
- Racism: A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics states that racism impacts children’s mental health. As a parent or guardian, you can help your child develop more awareness and teach them how to respond appropriately.
- Being in the LGBTQ+ community: LGBTQ+ youth are especially vulnerable to mental health conditions, being twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms. Since they’re unsure of how their loved ones will react, LGBTQ+ children may also have anxiety about coming out. It’s crucial to provide these adolescents with a safe and accepting environment.
Free Mental Health Resources for Families
We’ve compiled a list of free mental health resources for families below. If you have one you’d like us to add, please let us know!
These online resources offer information for parents of teenagers and adolescents. They cover numerous mental health conditions through videos, brochures, guides and other mediums:
- Teen Mental Health
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
- The Jason Foundation
- Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA)
Explore Our Resources for Teens and Parents
Seeing your child happy and healthy is all a parent could ask for. At Hillside®, our mission is to provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to support them. We help your child or teen heal through treatments like dialectical behavioral therapy, horticulture therapy and others. To learn more about our services, reach out to us today.