Be Mindful of These 5 Key Indicators
As a parent, it’s normal to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. After all, raising a child is one of the most challenging jobs there is. And when it comes to mental health, many parents feel anxious and worried about their kids. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center report found a staggering 40% of parents are “extremely” or “very” worried about their child struggling with anxiety or depression. You may have wondered, “does my child need therapy?”
If you’re one of those parents, you’re not alone. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and unsure. But the hopeful news is, there is help available. If you’ve ever wondered if your child might benefit from therapy, consider teletherapy. It’s a convenient solution where a licensed counselor provides remote support, guidance and coping skills through a computer or tablet.
As a busy parent, your time is precious. Between work, school extracurricular activities and everything else on your plate, finding the time to drive your child to therapy appointments may feel daunting. But with teletherapy, you don’t have to worry about the drive time.
When considering whether to pursue teletherapy for your child or teen, there are five key indicators that you should consider:
Changes in Behavior
As a parent, it can be heartbreaking to watch your once outgoing and social teenager become withdrawn and isolated. If you are noticing a significant change in your child’s behavior, it could be a sign they’re struggling with mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
These changes in behavior go beyond normal teenage angst and moodiness. You may notice increased irritability, trouble sleeping or eating, frequent mood swings or other major changes. These symptoms can be scary and overwhelming, but there is help.
Poor Performance in School
If your child’s grades suddenly drop, or they are having difficulty concentrating in class, this may be a sign that they are experiencing mental health issues. Children and teens who are struggling with anxiety or depression may find it challenging to focus on schoolwork and may also have trouble with attendance. It’s one thing to daydream in their least favorite subject and another thing to not even try in their favorite class. These are a few signs there’s a lack of motivation, low self-esteem or even bullying.
Scholarly research from 2019 states academic stress is a major concern for middle and high school students and kids today are under more academic stress than ever. You can start by talking to your kids, but some may feel it’s best to talk with an outside source, someone who can give an unbiased opinion. Educational stress can negatively impact academic performance, sleep and overall mental health. You may think it’s best to wait and see. But this approach can allow the situation to quickly escalate from your child beginning to slip academically to leading to failing grades.
Mental health issues may be primarily internal, but they can also have physical manifestations. If you notice that your child is frequently complaining of unexplained headaches, stomach aches, or other physical symptoms, it could be a sign that they’re struggling with mental health issues. It’s important not to overlook these problems as minor challenges, as they could be an indication of a more significant problem.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to rule out any physical health concerns by consulting with a doctor. But if no physical cause is found, it’s essential to consider the possibility of mental health issues. Talk to your child or teen to see if they can identify a common stressor that may be causing them to feel this way. Perhaps they’re struggling in a tough history class, dealing with a relationship challenge, or feeling overwhelmed by an overloaded schedule.
If the physical symptoms persist despite addressing potential stressors, it may be time to seek the care of a therapist.
If your child is using drugs or alcohol, this may be a sign they are attempting to self-medicate to manage mental health issues. Children and teens are often unaware of the risks of substance use. Self-medication can also be a sign of a more serious mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. Having a teen who is turning to substance use does not mean you’re a bad parent. Kids make mistakes. The key is to curb the problem before it gets out of hand.
According to 2020 research from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health, among teens aged 12 to 17 years old in 2020, 20.9% had either a substance abuse disorder or a major depressive episode in the past year.
When a child or teen engages in self-medicating behavior, it can be difficult for them to recognize when their mental health is deteriorating and the need for more structured help. Substance use is a significant red flag, and it is important to seek help as soon as possible.
We understand that life can be unpredictable, and there are some things you simply can’t control. If your child has experienced a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, a natural disaster, divorce, or any other significant life change, they may require mental health assistance. Traumatic events can have long-lasting effects on a child’s mental health, and it’s critical to provide them with the support and resources they need.
It’s essential to remember that recovery takes time, and it’s a journey that looks different for everyone. Your child will need to build the skills required to cope with trauma, acknowledge and manage their emotions, and learn valuable coping mechanisms that will serve them for life. While the process may be challenging, it’s crucial to remain patient and supportive throughout their journey.
As a parent, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to support your child during this time. Seeking the help of a licensed therapist can provide your child with the tools and guidance they need to heal and move forward.
If you notice that your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is critical to seek mental health assistance. Talk to your child’s doctor or reach out to HopeNation to determine the best course of action.
Early intervention can help prevent long-term problems and ensure your child grows into a healthy, productive adult with the emotional skills to navigate life. “Wait and see” is not a strategy. Your family is not alone. HopeNation will walk with you every step of the way. Reach out to make an initial conversation by clicking here.