Nobody wants to realize that somebody they love is struggling, be it with their physical or mental health. It is an especially hard realization when that individual struggling is a child. Additionally, determining when a child is struggling can be hard. Children don’t have the same vocabulary or introspective abilities that adults do and sometimes it can be hard to determine what is a normal part of development and what is cause for concern. Additionally, there are myths and misconceptions surrounding mental health treatment for children. Examining these myths and teasing apart facts from fiction can help parents and caregivers provide the best care possible for their children.
Myth: Children do not struggle with mental health issues
This is false. In addition to what is often considered a childhood issue, such as ADHD and learning disorders, children can struggle with some of the same mental health issues adults do, such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, many people who will go on to develop disorders start showing symptoms at a young age. One study suggests that as many as ⅓ of those who will struggle with a mental health issue will show signs before the age of 15, and as many as ⅔ will show signs by 18.
Myth: Children will grow out of mental health problems if left to their own devices
It is very unlikely that a child will grow out of their mental health issues if left untreated. What is more likely to happen is that those untreated issues will intensify and be harder to treat later in life. This is why early intervention can be so important. Children are still growing and developing and as such are very resilient. Early interventions can teach them skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. In fact, research has shown that treatment within the first few years after symptoms develop is the most likely to have lasting results.
Myth: Children cannot be treated through therapy
This is false. Therapy for children is different from therapy for adults. It uses age appropriate methods and terminology to engage the children. Therapy for children does not just involve sitting in chairs and talking. It is designed to be a helpful and engaging experience for the child and often involves play. Additionally, a therapist can help both the child and the caregiver understand what the child is going through.
Myth: Childhood mental health struggles are just a result of bad parenting
Childhood mental health issues are not the parents’ fault. The exact cause of most mental health issues is unclear, but they are believed to be a combination of genetics interacting with life experiences. Though home life can and does affect a child’s mental health, it is not the only factor at work. Additionally, parents or caregivers are an important factor in helping a child cope with the things that are going on in their life. By working together with a therapist, caregivers can vastly improve the state of their child’s mental health.
Many children struggle with mental health issues and seeing a licensed therapist can help them build the skills they need to succeed in life and grow into happy, healthy adults. Hurley Counseling has several therapists that see children and teenagers. If you have any concerns about your child, please do not hesitate to call at 251-222-8880.
For excellent information on a huge variety of issues related to childhood mental health please visit the Child Mind Institute.
This blog was written by our intern, Hannah Shaffett.