A mental illness is a medical condition that may change a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. A person may not be able to cope with ordinary demands of life. All ages, race, religions and income levels can be affected. There are a several diagnoses including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive (OCD), bipolar and posttraumatic stress (PTSD) disorders. It is important to be aware of warning signs that your child may be struggling. Pay special attention to behaviors if your child experiences a loss or major life change and event.
For Parents and Caregivers
As a parent or caregiver, you want the best for your children or other dependents. You may be concerned or have questions about certain behaviors they exhibit and how to ensure they get help.
Signs to look for in a person
- Feels very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
- Worries or so fearful that effect daily activities
- Has severe mood swings
- Has drastic personality changes
- Seems out of control
- Gets into fights
- Loses appetite or frequent throwing up or use of laxatives
- Uses drugs or alcohol repeatedly
- Hurts themselves or makes plans to do so
What to do if concerned?
• Talk to a doctor, nurse, school counselor or other medical professionals
• Ask if an evaluation is needed
• Ask about treatment options such as counseling and medication
Do you need help starting a conversation with your child about mental health?
Try starting with:
- Tell me more about what is happening? How you are feeling?
- Have you felt like this in the past?
- Sometimes you need to talk to an adult about your feelings. I’m here to
listen. How can I help you feel better?
- Do you feel like you want to talk to someone else about your problem?
- I’m worried about your safety. Can you tell me if you have thoughts
about hurting yourself or anyone else?
Listen actively to what your child says. Repeat what you heard. This let’s your child know that you understand what they said and makes sure you have the right information.
When talking with your child:
- Talk in a direct way
- Speak with words they can understand
- Choose a time when your child feels safe and comfortable
- Watch for reactions
- Slow down or step back if they become confused or upset
- Listen openly
It is important to let your child tell you about his or her feelings and worries.
Support Your Children
Seek immediate help if you think your child needs support or is in danger of harming themselves or others. There are many resources for parents and caregivers who want to know more about children’s mental health.
Parent Network of WNY
1021 Broadway Street
Buffalo, NY 14212
Family Support Lines:
English – 716-332-4170
Espanol – 716-449-6394