5 Things to Know If Your Child Needs Mental Health Services
There has always been a stigma around mental health services in the United States. The stigma is worse when it is a child seeking out help.
Child therapy and child counselors can improve a child’s mental health and give children a better life. We worked with our top child therapists to give you a list of 5 things to know when your child is going to therapy or using mental health services.
1.) When To Start Thinking About Using Child Mental Health Services
It is important to identify and understand when child therapy could help your child. Trained child social workers and therapists can help kids and teens through tough times. There are many great articles on how to identify your child’s needs that go in-depth about behavior issues and signs to look for.
In general, if your child is dealing with extreme emotions like sadness, anger, stress and worry, low self-esteem, or grief, a health professional can help. It is important to remember children act out and push boundaries in their life; it is natural.
If your child is acting out constantly, showing behavioral health not appropriate for their age, or showing signs of clinical problems, it might be time to seek out professional help.
2.) How Child Mental Health Services Work
Kids learn by doing and therapy is no different. While therapy greatly differs based on the age of the child, most therapy sessions work through problem-solving skills and talking about feelings.
For younger kids, a therapist will include activities like drawing, playing, and talking as part of the therapy. Teenagers and older kids will work through sharing activities and ideas based on learning to develop skills needed to work through problems.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment but in general, therapy is designed to identify the source of the child’s problem. Then, the therapist will work with the kid to develop skills to cope, problem-solve, and create healthy thinking patterns.
3.) How Do Child Psychiatrists Help?
There are many benefits to therapy for children including:
Your child, through therapy, can learn problem-solving skills
Teach your child self-control and patience
Develop listening, sharing, and communication skills
Teach coping mechanisms for grief and anxiety
Teach alternative healthy ways to express themselves
The benefits to therapy sessions are unlimited and unique per case. A professional mental healthcare provider will be able to work with your child and develop the skills they need to improve their mental health.
4.) How You Can Help As A Parent
Your job as a parent does not stop with you dropping your child off for therapy. Many times, a therapist will ask you to join in sessions and work with your child in front of them. Even if you are not a part of the therapy sessions your role is vital to reinforce what they have learned and continue to improve your child’s mental health.
Parents should sit down with the child’s therapist and develop strategies outside of therapy to help reinforce learned behaviors.
At the early stages of therapy, you are instrumental in providing information about your child to the therapist. While the therapist is the expert on therapeutic interventions, you are the expert on your child. Your knowledge of your child and the situation is crucial to helping your child.
The worst thing you can do as a child care provider is not communicating with your therapist. More often than not, your gut feeling as a parent is right. Do not be shy to let the therapist know what you think. Your insights can lead to new discovery, more effective therapy sessions, and uncovering underlying issues that might never have been brought to light.
Once therapy sessions are in full force, it’s important to meet with the therapist and go over their observations. Sometimes kids are more willing to talk to a therapist and they might have insights from sessions you didn’t know about.
During your meetings, your therapist will probably give you exercises to use at home and in public. They should also work with you on correcting any issues in and around home life. It is very important during your meetings with the therapist to always ask questions and not be shy.
There is no reason to be afraid to ask for help or to keep things bottled up due to embarrassment or a feeling of failure. Remember you did the right thing by getting your child help and this is just the next step to better mental health for your child.
5.) How To Handle Obstacles
There are going to be road bumps and rough spots through your child’s sessions. Your doctor, child, friends, family, or spouse can be unaware of your feelings during this time and may say things that can be hurtful. It is important to remember that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and your child seeking mental health services is not a failure.
You will need to reinforce this concept with your child and let them know that seeing a counselor is not a failure. Any other hiccups or obstacles you run into during this time are probably best discussed with your mental health professional. You can tackle the problem together, problem solve, and develop a strategy to overcome any issues.
If the problem is with your therapist themselves, make sure you voice your concern and work with them to try and get through the issue. Your child’s progress to better mental health should be your focus. If you feel that progress is not being made you can seek a second opinion on treatment.
That said, it is important to remember your child has developed a relationship with their doctor and it is typically much easier working on the current relationship than finding a second doctor.
While there are a lot of stigmas around mental health sessions nothing is more important than your child’s health. Seeing a psychiatrist can provide many wonderful benefits for your loved ones. Tools they learn during therapy will better equip them for the rest of their lives.
If you want to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals you can give us a call today.