Expert Explains the Importance of Being Open with Your Mentally Ill Child
Written by Eric Yunker, in Section Featured Articles
While it is estimated and more widely publicized that 20% of American adults experience either some type of anxiety or depressive disorder each year, children - specifically, teens - are also affected in equally large numbers.
The following article discusses the prevalence and severity of teenage mental illnesses, why parents need to talk to their child about mental health, and even expert advice on how to do so.
While 20% of American adults experience either some type of anxiety or depressive disorder each year, children are also affected in large numbers.
CDC’s research approximated that nearly 4.4 million children (between the ages of 3 - 17) meet the diagnosis standards for at least one type of anxiety-related disorder, while 1.9 experience a depressive disorder.
It’s Even Worse for Teens Who Fall Between the Ages of `13 - 18
The most recent statistics from the CDC estimate that the number of mentally illteens who fall between the ages of 13-18 mirrors that of adults with 20% also experiencing at least “one type of severe mental disorder.”
These eye-opening statistics are troubling, to say the least, and for multiple reasons.
“The presence of a caring adult can make a big difference,”
That said, parents of severely depressed or anxious teens need to understand how potentially grave their child’s diagnosis can be if left untreated, undertreated, or worse, flat-out ignored.
To illuminate the potential enormity of their child's emotional and mental health condition, parents of mentally ill teens needn’t look further than the shocking number of teenage suicides committed each year:
As reported by the CDC in 2017’s youth suicide statistics, suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for young people, ages 10-24 - only surpassed by that of motor vehicle accidents.
So What Can Parents Do To Ensure Their Child’s Safety and Overall Mental and Emotional State?
According to Dr. Donald Mordecai, MD, National Leader for Mental Health at Kaiser Permanente - the ultimate authority on such matters - aside from the obvious (immediately seeking out the most effective psychiatric treatment) the most impactful tool for parents of mentally ill children to utilize is their attentiveness and compassion.
Dr. Mordecai explains that simply paying attention and supporting a mentally ill child on an emotional and compassionate basis is majorly impactful.
He says, “The presence of a caring adult can make a big difference,”
That’s good news for loving parents who already consider their child’s state of mental health as a major priority.
The Importance of Talking to Your Kids About Their Mental Health
While no parent is perfect, those who make it a priority to pay attention and, furthermore, make an effort to support their child’s well-being, slight adjustments in their parenting may be all that is required to be impactful, according to the doctor. Namely, making it a top priority to candidly talk to their child about mental health.
The adolescent-psychiatric expert further elaborates that simply being open and honest with their adolescent boy or girl “can be a major protective factor in the face of traumatic events.”
Lead by Example: Share Your Emotions and Personal Challenges
Children, especially when young, tend to model and mimic the behaviors of their caregivers. While their proclivity to copy the emotional and behavioral patterns of their parents lessens with age, it is still important that parents of teenage boys and girls consistently ‘lead by example,’ as well as openly discuss the importance of mental health as often as needed.
To read more from Dr. Mordecai’s expert advice for parents of mentally ill adolescents, please click the link below: