Discussing Mental Health as a Parent
Mental health is, for some reason, the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Why? We all have to deal with set backs and obstacles in life, why not make talking about mental health normal?
Well, I’m here to talk about it. About how important it is, and how small changes can make a world of difference! As you may have figured out, we have had some major challenges this school year with one of our littles. The tears, the anxiety, the sadness…it was NOT our normal. We had noticed the changes for some time, but when friends and family also said they noticed the changes, we knew it was time to get professional help.
My co-worker told me that our employee benefits cover 10 therapy sessions 100%, so that lessened the financial burden (not that it would have stopped us). We called the insurance company to get more information on the benefit and they sent us a list of providers. From that list, we whittled it down-there are surprisingly few therapists for children! And then called our pediatrician for her recommendation. To say this process was easy, would be a lie. Yes, the actual steps that needed to be taken were simple, but as a parent, I struggled with feelings of guilt that I had failed as a parent.
Trying to Build a Support System
We also worked with the school to set up supports at school and address some of the situations that were contributing to our child’s struggles. The teacher didn’t know that there was a bullying situation and took steps to separate the children once she learned of the situation. The counselors and other teachers have done what teachers and counselors do-unselfishly accepting more things on their plates to help a child. Side note-I used to work at the school our children go to, so I still have friends there. When they heard that we were having problems, they jumped to action and set up lunch bunches and check-ins. They didn’t have to do it, but they willingly gave their own planning time and lunch time to help our child feel more comfortable at school and bring back the joy that school used to instill.
In addition to the help the school provided (definitely start there if your child is struggling), we did find an amazing play-based therapist that we LOVE! She is fun and responsive and has made a huge difference in our child’s mental health! After just a few visits, we have noticed that our happy, bubbly, energetic child is back and there are less episodes of crying in the closet alone and less tears about school. We actually want to go to school now! Our kid is back.
Seeking Mental Health Resources
Moral of this story, if you notice any changes in your child’s mental health, do not wait. I no longer have mom-guilt about failing my child. I only wish I had sought out help sooner. As a society, we need to normalize therapy for people that are struggling. Normalize that it is ok to not be okay and that it is 100% okay to seek help.
If you’re not sure where to turn to for support, for your child or yourself, there are resources available. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides support and information to individuals, families, and educators. “The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health conditions, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. HelpLine staff and volunteers are experienced, well-trained and able to provide guidance.”
There is also a NAMI Helpline that’s available Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM EST.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, there are options available. Although this does not cover all available options, we hope this provides a starting point for anyone in crisis.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — “The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States.” There are phone and online chat options available, including in Spanish and for deaf and hard of hearing.
- NAMI Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741
A Beginning for Mental Health Awareness
We know our own child’s journey has improved with therapy, but it doesn’t mean it’s over. So, we hope our child’s story, and the resources we’ve shared today, will help someone whenever they might need it.
Please feel free to comment or share any additional resources available that aren’t mentioned.