If you grew up in a military family, you know that many of the challenges you faced were different than those of your civilian friends. While there are many positive elements of growing up in a military family, being a military kid means always having to adjust and adapt to an array of changes, and that’s not an easy task! Below are four of the top challenges that our military kids face, some common difficulties kids experience as a reaction to those challenges, and some tips to help your children through them.
In November 2010, I celebrated my first Thanksgiving as a full time single parent of a very special boy who had an un-diagnosed serious mental illness. Eric was barely eleven, but he had already been hospitalized and incarcerated for behavioral symptoms of his brain differences. Before that Thanksgiving, Eric’s father and I had shared joint custody, but a juvenile court judge had decided that Eric should stay with me full time while we worked to find a treatment that would help my sweet son to manage his increasingly unstable moods. I knew I should be grateful—but instead, I felt tired, afraid, and alone.
For children who grow up in foster care, life is unpredictable. They have to struggle with the instability that comes with moving from family to family, while trying to cope with the reasons why they are unable to stay with their biological family. Because of these challenges and others, children in foster care are more at risk for mental health issues than children in the general population. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics calls mental health issues the “largest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.”
When you think of someone struggling with depression, what comes to mind? You probably imagine someone who is sad, withdrawn, has low energy and is constantly tired, or has a decreased mood. And you would be right. These are some of the most common symptoms of depression in children and adolescents.
When we talk about mental health and wellness in children, we often focus on what adults are doing – being vigilant for the warning signs, getting kids into the right treatment programs, raising awareness in our communities. Sometimes in all our efforts to raise awareness and advocate for our kids, adults forget that young people themselves have tremendous power to change their worlds and the lives of those around them.Sometimes it’s a simple as having someone to sit next to at lunch.
The stigma surrounding mental health can cause a gap in awareness for parents and lead to myths concerning child mental illness. Awareness is clearly needed for parents; according to research published by the NIH, the first onset of most mental health disorders usually occurs before the age of 14. Yet this report from the Child Mind Institute notes that millions of children with a diagnosable mental illness are not being treated.
What keeps children from getting the treatment they need? Sometimes, parents don’t know what to look for. Other times, access to treatment is a problem. There are also the myths about mental illness. Due to feelings of shame or misunderstandings about mental illness, some parents fear taking their child in to be diagnosed or “labeled.” Considering the long-term consequences of untreated mental illness in children, these myths must be debunked. Below are five common mental health myths and the truth behind them: