Behind these smiles, live the people whose lives have been rocked by Mental Health issues over the past 7 years. We smile because we are doing our best to rise about the hand we have been dealt. World Mental Health Day is celebrated annually on 10 October in an effort to raise awareness of mental health issues globally. The main focus is to promote good mental health for people worldwide. The theme for the 2019 World Mental Health Day is ‘suicide prevention’ which is recently touched on. Today I will be sharing Mental Health Tips for parents and children living with this dread condition.
Raising a child that lives with Mental Health issues isn’t easy, but it has become my purpose to help encourage open conversations about mental health conditions and I want other families to know that they are not alone.
Tips for parents raising children with mental health conditions
Things you can do
- Don’t live in denial and accept the situation for what it is. Hardest thing for a parent is to find out that your child has health issues. As hard as it is, the sooner you make peace with your reality the easier things become.
- Engage in treatment. There are many forms of treatments so explore all options and get professional diagnosis and treatments. It certainly makes a huge difference and the sooner you know what you dealing with the sooner you can work on a plan of action.
- Find a good support system for your child as well as yourself. You and your child will need a good support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you will need.
- Troubleshoot to find your child’s triggers. Connect with your child so that you understand their triggers. Children don’t normally notice when they are in a downward spiral and it becomes imperative that parent spots the signs early and acts before things take a turn for the worst.
- Enrol kids in physical activities. Physical activity is an absolute win. I absolutely swear by it and from our own experience attest to the fact that fitness is the game changer when it comes to living with mental health conditions. Now get up, get moving and get those endorphins pumping.
- Attend to your needs. _ While we strive to watch over our children like a hawk, we need to do the same for ourselves. Parents need to be mindful about their own mental state as raising a child with mental health conditions is emotionally, physically and mentally draining. The old adage that you cant pour from an empty cup certainly holds true.
- Give the best time to your kids. – Always be present. In every moment with your child, be 100% there. Get involved in their lives and talk talk talk. Discover what they love and what drives them as this normally changes when they hit their teens.
- Recognise your strengths. – Hone in on your strengths and make them work for you. Whether it is your adventurous nature, crazy sense of humour or Marie Kondo organisational skills, your strengths can be used to make the situation easier, so own it.
- Practice your passions. Do not stop living your life. Instead of worrying and constantly being in a state of paranoia when it comes to your child, find your passion and enjoy it. You also deserve and need a time-out so fully embrace your passion.
- Get a puppy – I hear you say. “ABSOLUTELY NOT”, but our furry friends possess impressive mood boosting superpowers that help ease depression. We finally gave in and got a puppy and to be honest it was the best decision ever. Nobody can resist limitless cuddles and kisses from a fur baby.
- Focus on the whole family . The hardest part about raising a child with mental issues is that all focus and efforts are generally placed on that child. Aim to focus on the family unit in totality. Arrange date days with your other children so that they don’t feel neglected and start resenting their sibling. As hard as it may be try to normalise the situation.
- Don’t blame yourself. – Enough with the self-guilt and blaming yourself. Rather focus on the good and all that you do to help your child live a fairly normal life.
- Live a life of gratitude. – Count your blessings daily and live a life of gratitude. Encourage daily gratitude journaling as it helps change ones outlook on life.
Things to avoid doing
- Criticising and / or blaming your child.
- Screaming or raising your voice at them.
- Harping on a point
- Becoming aggressive with them.
- Jumping to conclusions.
- Not listening to them.
- Being sarcastic or making jokes about their condition.
- Making condescending remarks.
Other articles are written that may be of interest to you:-
- Teenage Depression is Destroying Our Lives
- Teen Suicide Awareness – Can you recognise the warning signs?
- National Book Week South Africa, ADHD and the Benefits of Reading
- Playtime is essential for both kids and parents
Should you and your child require support and assistance you can contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group HERE.
DISCLAIMER : The tips mentioned above are from a mum and her son who have been living a life dealing with mental health condition for a decade. These are the changes incorporated into our lives under the close guidance of professional doctors and therapists who have or continue to treat my son.