Mental health is important to overall health at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.
Unfortunately, studies show that 7.7 million youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year—that’s one out of every six children in the U.S. Mental health conditions in children are generally described as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviors, social skills or regulation of emotions. These problems are distressing to children and disrupt their ability to function well at home, in school or in other social situations.
How can I help my child cope with a mental health diagnosis?
If your child is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, you play an important role in supporting your child’s treatment plan. To care for yourself and your child:
- Learn about your child’s mental health condition from reputable sources and work with your child’s school to secure necessary support.
- Ask your child’s mental health professional for advice on how to respond to your child and handle difficult behavior and explore stress management techniques to help you respond calmly, enroll in parent training programs, and consider family counseling.
- Seek ways to relax and have fun with your child and praise your child’s strengths and abilities, instead of focusing too heavily on deficits.