It goes without saying that you want your kids to be as healthy and happy as possible. You care for them when they’re sick and help them through the tough times. But what happens when the thing that’s hurting them isn’t physical? What do you do when they’re struggling with their mental health?
Therapy is the best way to overcome mental illness. It provides people of all ages with a space to talk about their feelings and learn useful techniques to cope with their problems. But it can be tough to know how exactly you should go about getting your child the help they need. Learn more about how to approach this situation below, or answer just a few questions to have your child matched with the right psychologist for their needs.
Signs that they may be struggling
Like any other person suffering from mental illness, children can show certain symptoms that indicate they might be finding it difficult to cope. Some common signs that your child is in need of professional help can include…
- Mood changes
- Behavioural changes
- Substance use
- Physical harm
- Unexplained weight-loss or weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
Communicate openly with them
As a parent, talking to your child about their problems can be difficult at the best of times. However, this is an important step towards understanding what they’re going through and how you can help them.
If you want to open up this conversation, it’s important to do so in a loving, empathetic way. Bringing up your concerns in the middle of an argument will likely make them feel defensive and guarded, so try to avoid this. Instead, approach them when you are both calm and explain that you want to know how they’re feeling. Make sure you keep the focus on listening to them rather than trying to give advice or find a solution. After they have opened up, you can try to steer the conversation towards getting professional help. Tell them that you want them to be as happy as they can be, and that there are people trained to help them manage their problems.
Overall, you should aim to make your child feel as comfortable as possible when addressing their mental health. Remember that talking about this stuff is hard, so they might take a while to open up. As their parent, it’s up to you how much you want to encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling. Every child is different, so you need to do what you think is best for their wellbeing.
Take them for a GP assessment
The first step towards finding a psychologist for your child is taking them to a GP for a mental health assessment. The way you go about this is likely to vary depending on their age. For example, you can take a 5-year-old to the GP without talking to them about it first. However, this would prove more difficult for a child at a more independent age, such as a 13-year-old. You know your child better than anyone, so knowing how best to move forward is a decision only you can make.
When you’re at the GP, they will determine whether your child needs professional treatment. If they do, they will then be set up with a mental health plan. This will make your child eligible for up to 10 subsidised treatment sessions with a psychologist. To learn more about getting money back on your sessions or bulk billing, read our previous blogs.
The next step is finding a mental health professional who is the right fit for your child’s needs. Ok To Talk can make this process easy. All you need to do is fill out a few questions so we can get to know what type of psychologist would work best for them. This service is completely free and helps to take away the stress from finding the right professional for their needs. Once this is done, they will be able to work through their problems in regular therapy sessions.