Your child is struggling. As a mom, your heart probably hurts to see them going through this. And you’d do anything to make it go away. Unfortunately, wishing it away is not going to solve anything. There are, however, three specific things you can do to really help a child dealing with mental health issues – and help yourself and your whole family in the process.1. Take care of yourself
Let’s face it; moms (and many dads too) are just too busy to take good care of themselves. But it’s vitally important that we do so. If we aren’t well, how can we possibly take care of anyone else? Self-care takes a number of different forms:
- Physical – are you getting any exercise? And no, running errands doesn’t count. Make time for a good long walk in one of San Antonio’s beautiful parks. Or get out for a walk after dinner every night with the family.
- Emotional – Being a mom can be isolating. Even in the midst of all we have to do, it can sometimes feel like we’re all alone. Get some support. Talk to other moms in your neighborhood, or join a mom’s group (try one of these San Antonio Moms Meetups) and find some like-minded women.
- Mental – As your child struggles with mental health issues, are you tending to your own? Many parents find it really helpful to connect with someone who understands the challenges and anxieties you face while your child is suffering. Ask your own doctor for a referral or ask your insurance for a list of providers and select someone you trust..
You probably know your child better than anyone. Yet you’ll get tons of conflicting (and sometimes flat out bad) advice about the best care for your child. Getting your child the help they need often means going with your gut instinct and pushing through your own concerns. Mental health is simply one more facet of being human. Just as you instinctively know when you child needs a visit to the pediatrician, trust yourself to do what’s right for their mental health. Ignoring a problem or wishing it away doesn’t help anyone, and can only lead to more problems down the road.
Fortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health is quickly being replaced by acceptance of the importance of actively caring for the body and the mind.3. Accept your child’s mental health struggles
Just as you know in your heart when something’s wrong, you have it in yourself to accept that it’s happening. We all want the best for our children, and do imaging them hurting is devastating. But the best way you can help your child is to honestly accept that they might need help! Sometimes your child’s challenges are part of growing up. All children go through stages where they are less talkative, more withdrawn, or act out. They are learning how to understand and process their feelings in a very strange and confusing world.
Make it a point to actively understand this. They aren’t acting out because they hate you; accept that these struggles are part of their development. And, like any part of life, they may need some outside help to cope. Being aware of this is the first step toward a solution that can ease your child’s struggles. And for a mom, that’s a beautiful thing.
With an eye to the best for our kids,
Michele Autenrieth Brown is the director of development for Clarity Child Guidance Center. She became passionate mental health advocate after trying to navigate the system of care to support a family member. When she is not shuttling kids to practices or spending time with her husband, Michele is perfecting just what to say to get the perfect eye roll and sigh from her teen and pre-teen childre
If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 9-1-1. If you need help locating mental health resources in your area, call your local health department or the National Alliance Mental Illness's helpline at 800-950- NAMI (6264). If are looking for mental health resources please click here.