The love and support you offer your child is invaluable, but what if it feels like it’s not enough? If you have a child who is struggling with mental health challenges, you may feel like you have a long and lonely road ahead. It can seem like there are so many unknown factors, and so many obstacles when you simply want to give your kid the best the world has to offer. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to improve your child’s mental health. Here are five child mental health tips to help your child prioritize his or her mental health from a young age.
1. Help your child to seek counseling
When it comes to strengthening your child’s mental health, one of the best things you can do is simply to encourage counseling attendance. Supporting a child’s mental health is a task no one should face alone, and a mental health professional is equipped with the most effective knowledge and skills to help you help your child. Once you’ve set up an appointment, continued engagement on your part can reinforce the benefits of counseling. Prepare your child for therapy, offer reliable transportation and be open to helping your child process his or her counseling experiences, after they have taken place.
2. Use the school’s resources
School-age kids may have additional resources available to them. Typically, schools network with community resources to connect students to local programs and services that might be of aid to your kid. Additionally, within schools there are numerous programs designed to address mental health concerns. Call your school to find out what services are available; if the school has a counselor, inquire about a regular meeting time for your child. Depending on the severity of the mental health diagnosis and the impact on your child’s success in school, your child may be eligible for special education services. These services range from social work services to occupation therapy to speech and language services. Ask the school for an evaluation to get the ball rolling if you’re interested in these additional services.
3. Invest in community with your child
A child who is surrounded by positive peers and is exposed to healthy adult relationships is a step ahead when it comes to social immersion. Spending time with the neighbors, extended family, a church community or a soccer team can offer your child a major mood boost, as well as a chance to practice mental health skills, like building positive relationships and managing emotions. Kids thrive with routine (even when they complain about it) and will benefit from regularly scheduled time for friends and family.
4. Make time for your child
Perhaps the easiest investment you can make in your child’s mental health is the easiest one to forget. Making one-on-one time for your child, without the distraction of a phone or television, will have a lasting impact on their emotional and mental wellness. Kids who have consistent support from a caring adult are shown to exhibit improved mental health outcomes over those who do not. Spending time playing, talking and relaxing with your child can bolster that bond you already have with them, reinforcing happy memories in easy and in difficult times. Most importantly, make time to listen to your child. Ask questions and offer the space for judgement-free sharing.
5. Do some research
There is a plethora of information available online about adolescent mental health. Check out research articles, socio-emotional learning and behavioral health tools from a host of websites and databases. Lots of lessons and activities can be adapted to suit your child’s age and developmental needs. Unfortunately, not all information online is evidence-based, and some even have the potential to negate the progress your child is making if it’s based on unsound data. Ensure that you’re reading information from reliable and credible companies. If you have questions or concerns about something you find online, bring it up at your child’s next therapy appointment.
Here are a few of the resources we suggest you consult:
- The Association for Children’s Mental Health has a comprehensive list of websites to check out that can be found under “Children’s Mental Health Sites We Like.” This list can help you find organizations more specifically suited to your child’s health needs.
- SocialWorkersToolbox.com has assessment resources as well as worksheets and activities for various ages. There are also resources available for parents to browse.
- PositivePsychology.com has an excellent overview of child therapy with some intro activities and worksheets that you can download and complete at home. You’ll find evidence-based resources – like a mini-lesson on Progressive Muscle Relaxation – and book lists for kids and adults alike.
- The National Alliance on Mental Health has a great article that outlines some steps you can take to ensure that your child’s mental health is supported at school. It also briefly summarizes the rights you have regarding special education services for your child. This often differs by state, so include your state in any browsing you do on this topic.
- OnlineCounselingPrograms.com has created a master list of links to websites with more specific youth mental health activities. There are several sections included, such as “Social and Emotional Health Resources,” “Academics and Learning Resources” and “Family and Relationship Resources.” Each of these sections is subdivided into resource lists for children and teens, so you can find the most age-appropriate tools.
Reach out to the professionals for help
If you’re serious about getting your child the mental health support he or she needs, contact Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare by calling (678) 325-3486. Early intervention is one of the best indicators of positive outcomes for mental health, so call today to ensure success for your child.