Mental Health in Children: Part 1
I am committed to eliminating childhood suicide, depression, trauma, anxiety, and any other mental health disorder that is running ramped in the lives of our children. I have chosen to bring awareness by writing in hopes of reaching parents and parental figures that want to raise mentally healthy children. In my 6 short years of teaching, I had a plethora of experiences where students (elementary to high) told me that they were experiencing depression, they committed self-harm, or occasionally contemplated suicide. I can’t say it enough…IT STARTS AT HOME. Some mental health disorders are genetic, but many are environmentally created. Our babies (young children, preteens, and teens) are killing themselves in the largest numbers ever seen to date.
If your child has the courage to vocalize the pain they’re feeling, get them the help that they need IMMEDIATELY. Don’t wait for them to get worse, don’t tell them they’re being dramatic, and don’t tell them that they are seeking attention. HELP THEM! If they don’t come to you, and you know your child even just a little bit, you will notice a change in their behavior. DON’T IGNORE IT! DON’T TRY TO FIX IT ALONE! Seek professional help (individual therapy, family therapy, medication if recommended, yoga, meditation). A compilation of all. The fight to mental health WELLNESS is ongoing, ESPECIALLY in children because they need the additional support from their parents. Let go of any judgement you have because if you don’t, your child won’t ever trust you enough to talk to you about their most important experiences in their everyday life.
You can choose to ignore it and add to the problem. Or you can choose to be part of positive change and add to the solution. What part will you play? CHECK YOURSELF! I want to be as transparent as I know how; I have suffered from major depression and anxiety since I was 12 years old. I have contemplated suicide. I can tell you today that I didn’t really want to leave this Earth. I just wanted someone to pay attention, somehow read my mind, tell me what was wrong with me, and what I really needed to do to feel better. I didn’t get therapy until I was 19 years old. I suffered for 7 YEARS because I didn’t know how to ask for help, and I didn’t share my story with others (with the exception of my husband) until the age of 30.
Research shows that approximately 90% of people who have died by suicide were suffering from a mental illness at the time. The most common mental illness reported was depression.
In the US, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among children and adolescents ages 10-24, and the 3rd leading cause of death among 12 year old's. Nearly one in every eight children between the ages 6 and 12 has suicidal thoughts. The suicide rate is approximately 4 times higher among males than among females, but females attempt suicide 3 times as often as males. When a suicide occurs, everyone is affected, including the people who are left behind (Boston Children’s Hospital).
Take mental health seriously. Your child is not exempt from it, and I would urge you to admit your own mental health struggles and seek help IMMEDIATELY. We can’t fully be there to support our children if we haven’t checked our own mental health. SEEK HELP. Therapy will change your lives. And please don’t give up on therapy after one or two bad therapy experiences. Those therapists just weren’t a good fit, and sometimes it takes going to 4 or 5 therapists to find the right one. One size DOES NOT FIT ALL. Once a month visits with the psychiatrist to increase or decrease meds is NOT ENOUGH! Medication is only a part of mental health wellness. I’m talking to everyone who is responsible for raising the adults of our future. DON’T GIVE UP! PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD! TALK TO YOUR CHILD! Be clear in your language and delivery about their mental health when talking to your child—don’t beat around the bush. BE AN EXAMPLE FOR YOUR CHILD! Are you part of the problem or the solution?
Come back next week for Mental Health in Children: Part 2
Remember…healthy communication leads to healthy relationships.
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Children's Hospital, Boston. “Suicide in Teens and Children Symptoms & Causes: Boston Children's Hospital.” Boston Childrens Hospital, www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/s/suicide-and-teens/symptoms-and-causes.