Children's Mental Health
What to do if your child is experiencing mental health challenges.
Who ever said that being a stay at home parent was easy?
With each passing day, parents and caretakers across the U.S. are scrambling to discover productive activities to occupy their children’s time. While schools are closed, parents have the unique opportunity to teach and spend quality time with their children. As cabin fever sets in, a month into the Stay-At-Home Order, it's not abnormal to see emerging personality traits and behaviors that weren’t previously recognized in your child.
Kids of all ages are experiencing a vast array of emotions, which may or may not have existed prior to COVID-19. In many cases, a pandemic event will exacerbate negative behaviors, making them more obvious. According to childrensmentalhealthmatters.org “Public health emergencies are not easy for anyone to comprehend or accept, especially children. Creating an open environment, where children feel free to ask questions, will help them to cope during stressful times.” As a parent or caretaker, if you begin to notice prolonged behavioral changes or adverse repeating patterns in your child, this may allude to an underlying mental health condition.
How do you know if your child is experiencing mental challenges?
Some behaviors are less noticeable than others. However, if your child is exhibiting any of the following characteristics, they may be experiencing difficulties with their mental health.
Lack of patience, interrupting, and having trouble waiting their turn.
Lack of focus, unfinished tasks, avoidance of tasks that require extended mental effort, and constant fidgeting.
Problems playing quietly, uncontrollable behavior, mistakes, and forgetfulness.
Throwing repeated temper tantrums, excessive arguing, refusal to comply with authority figures, and blaming others.
Being easily upset, or purposely upsetting others, being spiteful, using obscene language, saying mean and hateful things, and a propensity for drug and alcohol use.
Irritability, mood swings, periods of extended sadness, feeling numb, a desire to sleep all day, and fatigue.
Crying fits, difficulty performing tasks, despair, change in eating habits, and suicidal thoughts.
What should I do if I suspect my child has a mental health challenge?
As a parent or caretaker, there are a couple key points to keep in mind.
First, seek help sooner than later. Having a deeper understanding of what your child is experiencing is key for starting treatment. Ultimately, you will need to consult with a mental health professional. If you are uncomfortable with taking this step first, you may want to reach out to your child’s Primary Care Provider for more insight.
Second, know that help is available. Even now during the COVID-19 pandemic, most Mental Health Providers are offering telehealth, virtual help from home.
Why is my child experiencing this?
There is a chance that, as a parent or caretaker, you may feel guilty about the mental health challenges that your child is facing. There is no shame in seeking out mental health attention.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “It can be difficult to understand mental health disorders in children because normal childhood development is a process that involves change. Additionally, the symptoms of a disorder may differ depending on a child's age, and children may not be able to explain how they feel or why they are behaving a certain way.”
How do I find treatment and what does treatment look like?
Seeking mental health treatment can be confusing. There are a variety of treatment methods available, which is why finding a mental health provider who offers multiple services is most beneficial. These providers typically offer “all-in-one" or “wrap-around” services, tailored towards the specific needs of each individual. Unfortunately, a family’s financial situation may negatively impact them from receiving proper mental health care. The great thing is, however, there are top notch mental health providers who do not require any out of pocket expenses. These providers offer treatment so long as the individuals requesting service are enrolled in Medicaid insurance, such as: Priority Partners, MedStar, United Health Care, etc. When determining the best mental health provider for your family, ensure that the following services are offered for optimal treatment.
Psychiatry - a Doctor (Psychiatrist) who provides a psychiatric evaluation, and medication management (if applicable).
Therapy - a licensed Clinician who offers one on one, group, and/or family counseling. The Clinician has the ability to provide an unbiased listening ear and properly diagnose any mental health issues.
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (PRP) - a Behavioral Counselor acting as a mentor or support person. The Counselor works directly with individuals living with mental illness to reach a higher level of independence, facilitating a wide array of therapeutic activities.
Consider the Facts
Maybe you are worried you are overthinking this. Perhaps you feel that seeking mental health help for your child isn’t necessary at the moment. In this case, trust your intuition, you know your child best. Acting now could mean a world of difference for your little one who may be struggling internally. Consider the facts:
50% of all mental disorders begin by age 14
20% of children and adolescents ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition
46.4% or 43.8 Million people in the U.S. will experience a mental illness during their lifetime
175,000 people in Baltimore City are living with a mental health condition
39% of adults in Baltimore City have experienced 1-2 Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
42% of those adults have experienced between 3-8 ACEs in childhood
Current statistics indicate that youth who have at least one stable adult, such as a mentor, in their lives have better outcomes.
45% are less likely than their peers to begin using illicit drugs
59% do better academically
73% set and attain higher life achievement goals than other kids their age
(Sources: mentalhealthfirstaid.org, baltimoresun.com, namibaltimore.org)
If you are in the Baltimore, MD area and are seeking a mental health provider who offers wrap-around services, look no further. Parker Psychiatric Services (PPS) is here to support your individual and family needs. We are offering telehealth and Medicaid is accepted, which means that there are no out of pocket expenses. Visit us online www.parkerpsychiatric.com for more information or call us (410) 777-8710 to get started today.
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