Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues can affect any family, at any time. Buts stigmas around these issues can prevent parents from reaching out for help, for fear that they or their child will be judged.
Fortunately, there’s hope. People are breaking down barriers and talking more openly about mental illness and mental health issues. And with increased awareness and visibility comes greater access to resources for parents who struggle with these challenges.
These videos offer parental support and information on topics such as depression, self-harm, and how to obtain the help your child needs.
How Can I Support My Child Who is Experiencing Heightened Anxiety?
Dr. Megan Moller, LCP
Linden Oaks at Edward Hospital
Adolescent Anxiety IOP
The most important tip I give parents who want to best support their child who is struggling with heightened anxiety is, “Don’t enable avoidance.” Many of the things parents may be doing in the moment out of love and compassion result in a decrease in their child’s long-term functioning. When you “help” our child, for example, by calling them in “sick” making excuses for them, or speaking for them, you are actually depriving your child of the opportunity to learn how to manage those experiences. Thereby, you make it less likely that they will be able to handle things by themselves in the future. Avoidance systematically decreases a child’s ability to tolerate distress which in turn makes the world more and more distressing to a child until things that were once minimally stressful are now perceived as completely overwhelming and unapproachable.
Be prepared – Your child may not like you if you refuse to enable avoidance, particularly in you have in the past, and particularly they typically experience anxiety, which may be accompanied by distressing physiological symptoms and/or panic attacks. Because anxiety can and does manifest physically, it can be hard to determine if your child is actually not feeling well or is just anxious. Therefore, a good criteria to help differentiate is the presence of a fever above 101 degrees or vomiting.
Anxiety often paints an extreme picture of what we’re sure is about to come, but things very rarely go exactly as our mind predicts. Your child is stronger than their mind and if they avoid experiences they deprive themselves of the opportunity to realize that.
Conversations with experts are intended for general information only, and are not meant to provide specific advice, diagnosis, and does not constitute professional care. If this is an emergency, please dial 911 immediately.