Parents and teens alike are vulnerable to suffering from poor mental health at any time in their lives. There may be no apparent reason for it, but a two-way support system for carers and their children is necessary. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are the two most pressing, and as many know they affect not just the person themselves, but those around them.
I have witnessed the detrimental effect that a child’s mental health can have on their parents. Many of them feel powerless or like they aren’t doing good enough for their child, which is why we need to offer more resources to parents who are trying to help their child whilst they battle with anxiety and depression, reassuring these parents that they are not failing.
The current service configuration, with distinct Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) and Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS), is considered a weak link where the care pathway needs to be most robust. Here are a few tips for any parents who feel they are struggling to offer support for their child.
Remember, no one is perfect, it’s not an easy process to have work through someone’s mental health with them. There will be blips and setbacks along the way, but this is a natural process of healing. In cases of anxiety where your child may be scared to leave the house, don’t feel that if one day they can’t do it and they are too overwhelmed that they are going backwards. Take small steps with them, walk with them to the end of the street. Offer them the option of going back whenever they need to, having that option is vital. You can then increase it to walking to your local park and more public areas day by day. Even if there is a setback one day, reassure your child that it’s normal because by taking these small steps they will get through their struggles.
Helplines and Charities
Charities such as YoungMinds’ offer a helpline (08088025544) on weekdays and provide their service to offer advice, even the website you are reading this article on now, Parent999, offers support for adults and young people to aid in your mental and physical health. I strongly advise you investigate the resources both have to offer, as well looking for other charities that may be more specific to your situation/ needs online.
Remind your child of the activities they used to love
Being able to indulge in our hobbies and interests can give us a state of satisfaction and pleasure that is vital when battling with your mind. When struggling with your mental health these activities become less performed due to the belief that nothing can make us feel better or we may be too scared to carry them out. This links into the small steps advice, as you can’t force your child straight back into something they used to enjoy and overload them with the expectation that this will immediately increase their sense of progress and overall wellbeing. If your child used to love going to watch football, try take them to the stadium of the team they support, then the week after try going to watch a match for the first ten minutes of the game. Ask your child to try and push themself despite it being scary, but do not mentally overload them. If it is clear they are not coping, take them home and reassure them they can try as many times as they need.
If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others
The aforementioned tips in this article can also apply to you as parents. If you are struggling yourself and are not in a mentally and physically well condition to help your child, then you must seek external help. Do not mount pressure on yourself to the point where it is affecting you and your child. Make sure you continue to do the things you love, make sure you reach out to helplines and charities if you notice any signs of your mental state decreasing. Take care of yourself and and your child.