With 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental illness, the prevalence of psychiatric disorders today is higher than ever. Mental health professionals are aware of this growing epidemic and are working to advance treatment options for those who need help.
However, while clinicians certainly lead the charge in treating mental illness, family members can also play an important role in helping their loved ones recover. In fact, many times family support is the key to successful treatment.
What can parents do to prevent mental illness?
Not surprisingly, parents play a key role in the prevention of mental illness. Since many psychiatric disorders manifest during childhood like depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD, proper parenting is critical in helping children grow up to be mentally healthy adults.
One way to foster good mental health in your child is by adopting good eating habits. Healthy eating can not only boost physical health, but it can also improve mood and cognitive function. Make sure to provide your child with a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Another way to help prevent mental illness is by promoting positive social interactions. Encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities, like sports or clubs, that promote teamwork and friendship. Similarly, discourage them from engaging in activities that may lead to social isolation, like cyberbullying or playing video games for hours on end.
It’s also important for parents to set a good example for their children when it comes to mental health. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to seek professional treatment and talk openly about your mental health struggles with your children. Showing that you take good care of yourself will help set the tone for them to do the same.
Below you’ll find a list of more detailed mental health hacks for parents to help their children cope.
One of the most important things that you can do as a mental health advocate is to listen. People with mental illness don’t always know how to express what they’re feeling, and might not be able to clearly describe their symptoms. By allowing your child to talk about their experiences, you will be opening the door for them to make an informed decision about seeking help.
Make yourself available
If your child feels comfortable coming to you about their symptoms, it’s important that you be there for them. Keep your schedule open and try to make yourself available to your child when they need support the most.
Make time for fun
Encourage playtime with your child! Even though they might feel like they have limited energy or motivation, it’s important that your child engages in activities that make them happy. This can help improve their mood and overall outlook on life.
Seek professional help
If you are feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to best help your child, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A qualified mental health professional can provide you with the guidance and support you need to help your child get back on the road to recovery.
The most important thing that you can do is to be there for your child when they need you the most. By following these tips, together you can help ensure your child’s success in overcoming their mental illness.