by Mary Smith, Byrnes HEC Health Educator
Mental health is equal in importance to physical health. Parents focus on providing good nutrition, physical activity and adequate sleep to keep their children in top physical condition, but what about mental health? Many parents may not even be aware of warning signs to look for that indicate your child may be struggling. The following is a list of behaviors that may indicate that your child may be experiencing a mental health issue. If you notice any of these warning signs, it may be time to consult with a school counselor, mental health provider or another health care professional to seek advice about the behaviors you are observing.
*Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks
*Seriously trying to harm or kill himself or herself, or making plans to do so. This circumstance requires immediate professional assistance.
*Experiencing sudden anxiety or fear for no reason that has physical symptoms such as racing heart or fast breathing
*Getting into fights or hurting others
*Exhibiting out of control behavior that can end up hurting oneself or others
*Having severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
After consulting a health care professional to discuss your concerns, it is also important to have open communication with your child about how they are feeling. Talk to your child at a level that is appropriate for their age and development. Parenting is not always easy but there are resources for parents and caregivers to navigate this challenge- the first step is to not be afraid to ask for help.