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4 Ways to Analyze and Address the Mental Health of Children- A Personal Experience

Tulika is a content writer who has a flair for educating and motivating people through her writings.

In May 2011, when Ron met with an accident, he was just 13. The injury was severe as the most vulnerable part of the brain was damaged, and his vitals were feeble. The doctors were unsure of his recovery. Two years down the line, in the year 2013, his treatment fell in line. Gaining a conscious state of mind and coming out of paralysis, the improvement was slow yet gradual. Ron is a perfect example of steady physical recovery. So, is this the happy ending of the story? Not exactly! Ron, my cousin, was still not psychologically healthy.

His physical recovery was so focused that no one noticed his emotional health. Ron was having rapid mood swings and lost interest in activities he used to enjoy earlier. His ability to concentrate reduced considerably, while his appetite increased fourfold. The family cannot come to terms with the fact that their son requires psychological medical attention. And therefore, my inquisitive nature leads to in-depth online searching to get some insights on mental health.

The Mental Health

As per the World Health Organization, Health is an aggregation of somatic, emotional, and social well-being. Surprisingly, the WHO report reveals 10 to 20 percent of children and adolescents experience psychological illness at some point in their lives. The reasons behind mental disorders can range from genes to biological factors and stressful situations during childhood. Prolonged anxiety and traumatic brain injury can be other factors influencing mental health. Unfortunately, stigmas, discrimination, improper understandings, and negligence are the real culprits that prevent the treatments.

Why people neglect Mental Health?

My search led me to various reasons influencing the negligence of mental health. A few of them are as follows.

  • Stigmas around mental illness are widespread. People who suffer from mental health problems are called names and assumed they might have tried more. Social and self-stigmas both come with a lack of understanding that can carry serious consequences. These can reduce the chances of receiving appropriate treatment and proper care. Family members often experience social rejections and increased shame. It can thus deteriorate the quality of life of the patient and the whole family.
  • The negligence of mental disorders can also arise due to undiagnosed primary signs. According to a medical article, depressed mood and lack of interest in hobbies are the first signs a physician looks for during a diagnosis. Additional symptoms can also occur, similar to Ron’s case. But, the close ones often ignore these symptoms and think it can cure with time.
  • Sometimes stress and depressions start for a longer duration, and parents get to know it much later. For instance, teens can suffer from daily anxiety related to continuous bullying among their social circle. It can lead to isolation, which is a vital sign that marks the onset of depression. In the worst cases, anxiety and depression can push the person to substance abuse or to taking more complicated steps like suicide. According to data, suicide is soaring at an alarming rate, becoming the second cause of death for children and teens.
  • In accidental cases, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often follows physical trauma. Research has shown that almost 9 percent of accident survivors face PTSD. A child can have terrifying thoughts of the past event. He can suffer from disturbing memories all through the day and get nightmares. PTSD can start within months of traumatic experience, but sometimes it can even trigger years after the child is exposed to similar situations making it difficult to identify.

So what should be done?

Although identifying and managing mental health needs specialized knowledge and expertise, my studies helped me understand a few cardinal points to detect and address this health complication.

Observe warning signs

When the mental health of children or teens is concerned, watch for the initial symptoms. They might show a lingering change in behavior, sometimes social isolation, or an increment in anxiety levels. You have to understand that the ability of a child to recover from adversities are limited. It is better to watch for the symptoms as early as possible to get the quick and correct treatment.

Speak and listen

Talking about psychological health is still taboo. But, remember that the physical and emotional well-being of your child is your responsibility. Sometimes, a child is reluctant to speak due to fear of being misunderstood. Talk to your child about his problems and feelings. Guide him to overcome the challenges. And most importantly, listen to him while he is sharing his thoughts. Sometimes we parents are at fault for not listening enough.

Avoid stigmas

Education is the only way to reduce stigmas. Learn about the problem and refrain from discriminating physical health with mental. If you consider diabetes or cancer as diseases, think the same about mental illness. Both require diagnosis and care; just no one points out people with chronic illness.

Take help

Like any other illness, you need experts to recognize and guide you throughout the journey of recovery. They listen to your problems and put efforts to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatments. Sometimes, the underlying issue is far more complex and require a combination of treatments. Specialized medical practitioners will help identify and manage them efficiently.

So, did Ron get Help?

Every near one ignored Ron’s condition until his physician noticed the changes and recommended a mental-health practitioner. The first step taken by his family to visit the doctor proved to be rewarding. The doctor diagnosed Ron, educated his parents, and suggested treatment. With a few therapies and counseling sessions, he got back his lost mental soundness. And for his family, they are now vocal about mental health problems and spread awareness about illnesses that exist even if you can not see them.

Conclusion

Like Ron, there are children in our families who require our attention, love, and support. Negligence can damage a child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. Consequences can last a lifetime. Therefore, be vigilant towards their slightest behavioral changes. Motivate them to share and listen to them without being judgemental. Our children are our future; let them thrive in an environment full of care. And if required, do not hesitate to take help for their sound mental development.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Tulika vashist

Comments

Tulika vashist (author) from Agra on October 12, 2020:

Thanks for reading and appreciating Charlene. It feels good if your work touches other's life.

Charlene Gallant from Cape Town, South Africa on October 12, 2020:

Thank you Tulika for an interesting insight into such a taboo subject. As a mom with a teenage daughter and a son that is soon to be a preteen, I am always trying to be mindful of the emotional health. Thanks for reminding me to be more vigilant.

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