Helping your child navigate mental illness is tough, and it’s even harder because it’s not openly discussed. Not being able to discuss something as important as you or a loved one’s mental health is extremely sad. We cannot be afraid to share our stories and get help. We often make it a stigma that causes people to feel ashamed of their diagnosis. However, being different is what makes this world a constant place of learning, and having acceptance for difference is life changing. Helping my child with anxiety and depression has opened my eyes to see that there is a whole community of people who need compassion and hope.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information to teach you where to begin on the journey of parenting a child through mental health challenges. Here is a list of things I wish people would have told me to help my daughter (and me) along.
- Look for the warning signs of anxiety and depression, or any type of mental health issue: feeling sad much of the time, lots of worry and even fear, constant mood swings, acting out at school, isolation, and more characteristics that are not like your child.
- Your child’s school social worker/counselor can help get information for local mental health organizations, doctors, and local programs (also see list below). Also, check with your health insurance. They can sometimes get you an appointment faster than if you call on your own.
- Do not be afraid to research all medications offered to your child. Some of the meds are more dangerous than what they are being seen for. Make sure to ask about side effects, and get copies for your child’s school.
- Get support for yourself! It’s a lot to take on the load of being there for your child and still trying to keep your own sanity. My husband, parents, and best friend have been God-sends for me. They allow me to vent, cry, or even drop the other kids off, so I can scream in my car if I need to (yes, I did on the night I took her to an overnight care facility). You have to be strong for your kiddo. They will need you more than ever.
On our road to becoming a better version of ourselves (since this is my journey now, too), we have been blessed to have help from different organizations, and I would recommend them to anyone. I will list them below, along with some important numbers that can help you beyond the 9 to 5 time frame.
- Truman Behavioral Health, 816-404-5700, Walk in Clinic: M-F, 8:30-10:30
- Tri-County Mental Health, 816-468-0400, Walk-in Clinic: M-F, 8:30-1:00
- Synergy Services, 816-587-4100, Youth Crisis Line, 816-741-8700
- Commcare Mental Health Line, 1-888-279-8188
- Suicide Prevention Line, 1-800-273-8255
- National Parent Helpline, 1-855-427-2736, Monday-Friday 10am-7pm
Finally, remember that every day is different, and each day offers a chance to improve one step at a time. Never stop seeking help, and be open to the process, because that’s what it is.
To moms who are also walking this road, blessings to you all.