As a parent, what should I do?
As a parent of a youth or teen who is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, it may be confusing or difficult to understand what to do.
Below are a few suggestions on how to approach the topic with your child and how to be their biggest source of support.
(Information from Nami.org)
Communicate to your child that you are there for them if they ever need to talk or share private information without judgment.
Also, do a bit of research on mental illness so that when they are ready to talk about how they're feeling, you'll be able to empathize with them.
Talk about health
Make mental health a part of the daily conversations you have with your child. Share when you've had a bad day or when you're struggling and your child may feel as though they can be open as well.
Mental health is just as important as physical health; let your child know that feelings of depression or mania, etc. are normal and can be managed through treatment and the development of coping skills.
Perhaps you've noticed a shift in your child's mood or presence -- be direct and check in with them to make sure they are okay. Although they may not want to be open with how they feel, at the very least they'll understand that you care for their well-being.
You can also check your child's current academic standing to understand if something is wrong -- have their grades been slipping or are they constantly overwhelmed?
If you notice that your child is experiencing severe symptoms of a mental illness or perhaps they have expressed suicidal thoughts, it's important that you seek help for them immediately.
Please dial 9-1-1 or head directly to your local emergency room if your child is at immediate risk.