The end of the year is approaching, which means we are already halfway through the school year. Holiday parties, special religious celebrations and services, snow days, and winter break are all here. While the holidays are meant to bring us joy, rest, and spiritual rejuvenation, all of these changes also can be disruptive or stressful for families with children. This may be especially true for families with children who have special needs due to a mental health diagnosis.
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 You probably imagine someone who is sad, withdrawn, has low energy and is constantly tired, or has a decreased mood.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.
How Military Parents Miss the Warning Signs of Mental Illness in their Kids
“I can’t believe I didn’t see this sooner.”
It’s an agonizing moment when you realize your child is possibly dealing with a mental illness. You’re a good parent, you care about your kids, and yet somehow in the midst of your busy military family life, you missed the signs.
According to Jill Palmer, Clinic Director at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors in San Antonio, you’re not alone. Military families face enormous stress with moving every few years, starting new schools, adapting to new communities and everything that comes with military life. And this stress makes it easy to miss the signs of an underlying mental illness.
Turn on the news or check your phone updates and it seems like we are being inundated with the news of traumatic events around the world, in our hometowns, and in our schools. It can be overwhelming as adults, but imagine how overwhelming it can be for children. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that our children are affected by the traumatic events around them even if they can’t articulate the impact they have on them at times. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) estimates that about two thirds of U.S. children have experienced a traumatic event by age sixteen but have difficulty coping with the impact of that trauma. If left unaddressed, the effects of trauma can impact a child’s ability to thrive in school. Here’s what you need to know about helping children thrive in school (and life) despite the trauma they’ve experienced.
With the overabundance of media outlets today, many adults have difficulty discerning the line between reality and fantasy, so it should come as no surprise when children experience these same feelings. And when the images show a nonstop barrage of war, shutdowns, terrorism and violence, a military child can experience anxiety, fear and confusion. They may not know that person in uniform on TV, but it’s someone who looks like Mom or Dad.
Military parents can help allay those negative feelings by talking to their children and validating their very real concerns.
Turning 18 is a significant milestone for children and parents alike. It’s a rite of passage that children look forward to, as they think "Finally, I can make decisions on my own." On the other hand, parents typically feel some sort of apprehension about their child entering the perils of the adult world. “Where did the time go,” they wonder, and “Will they be okay on their own?” That apprehension is likely intensified for parents of children who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.