As a parent, you want to do everything for your child. You want to be there for them, especially when times get rough. However, being there for them might not always be easy if you have a child with a mental health disorder.
The best way to manage mental health disorders is through treatment. Get consent from your child about seeking treatment for their mental health. If you try to force them into therapy, it may only make matters worse. Instead, talk with your child and ensure that you are both on the same page when seeking treatment.
You also want to make sure you communicate effectively. This means explaining to your child that they are not damaged or less than others because they have mental health concerns. They are not wrong for wanting to seek treatment for a mental health disorder. This is crucial because your child must feel as comfortable as possible before they enter therapy. If they don't, they might be resistant to the process.
Help Them Find the Right Treatment
The most helpful thing you can do is help your child find proper treatment. There are several treatment options out there. Your child's unique story, diagnosis, and preferences may determine the treatment they need.
To ensure your child gets the right treatment, get a professional to diagnose your child properly. It is important to get this done by a professional. Symptoms of different disorders can overlap and mask deeper problems with more obvious surface issues. Self-diagnosis or diagnosis using anyone other than a trained mental health professional can result in misdiagnosis.
Once you've obtained a professional diagnosis, ensure your child gets the proper treatment for that disorder. For example, if you have a child that suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), a regular therapist may help, but not to the full extent. This disorder requires a therapist who specializes in dialectal behavior therapy (DBT). This can ensure that your child gets the most suitable treatment for their disorder.
Once your child begins treatment, the topic of medication may come up. Discuss the possibility of prescription medications with your child. Find out your child's thoughts on medications and educate yourself and your child on the options and pros and cons.
Medications are great for treating mental health disorders but getting the right medication can be difficult. There is usually a process of trial and error. Through this process, your child might try several different medications in different doses until they land on the right one. The side effects of trying other medications can vary, so keep in mind that your child's mind and body are going through a lot during the trial-and-error process.
There are also holistic options if medications aren't right for your child or they're resistant to the idea. Holistic treatments have been proven to treat anxiety and depression effectively without the side effects of taking medications.
Respect is one of the most important ways to support your child's mental health journey. It will grow the trust between you and your child. Also, it can make your child feel more comfortable about the difficulties that having a mental disorder can cause.
Respect can take many different forms. Largely, it comes down to being aware of boundaries and triggers. There are a lot of simple things you can do to achieve this.
One way is to avoid asking about what your child talked about in therapy. As a parent, you may want to know what is going on in your child's mind. You want to be the person they come to when they have a problem. The reality is that is not always the case. They may feel more comfortable talking to a therapist than they are to you, which is okay. Respecting that decision is important—you don't want to push your child too hard.
Another way to respect your child and their diagnosis is learning and avoiding triggers. Certain things, situations, people, and places may worsen your child's mental state. You can keep your child mentally healthy by helping them avoid or manage those triggers. Knowing what might cause problems for your child means you can stop problems before they start.
Being a Supportive Parent
Parenting is no easy task. No matter how comfortable you feel raising your children, they can always throw you a curve ball. It can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding. Having a child with a mental disorder is difficult, but it can be made much easier by giving them the support they need. Your child may see your effort and appreciate it, even if they don't show it.
Supporting your child can look go many different ways. However, at the core, it is about being respectful and communicating. Your child might not always divulge everything to you, which is okay. Respecting their individuality while being there to talk when they need someone will improve them. At times, it will be challenging, but staying positive for yourself and your child can take you farther than you imagined.
Seeing your child struggle with a mental health disorder is hard as a parent. You want to do all you can to help them, but you can't do it alone. You may need to seek professional help to manage your child's diagnosis. Luckily, there are professionals who are here for you. NorthStar Transitions, located in Boulder, CO, has experienced staff that can help you and your child navigate this difficult period in life. We offer various therapeutic options to help in every way we can. If you or your child needs treatment, you want to do all that you can to help. You can take the first steps by calling us today at (303) 558-6400.