I’ve had multiple conversations with parents recently who are really concerned for their kids’ mental health. If you are currently afraid your child may be battling a mental illness, you are NOT alone. I repeat: You are in really good company. This past year took a toll on our children and if they were already pre-disposed to trauma or some other kind of mental illness/disorder, then Covid and quarantine only amplified their pain.
Here’s what I am hoping you hear: You do NOT need to be afraid. Gosh, I know that seems so counter-intuitive and almost impossible to digest. But you have the tools to be able to get your child some help. You just have to be willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how much it costs, and regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Some of you have compounded your fear with your guilt. You also suffer from mental illness and now you are blaming yourself for your child’s affliction.
Please try to remember that our world is broken – and so we are broken emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Your child wasn’t going to be exempt from the brokenness, even if you didn’t have a mental illness. But, you do have the upper hand…here’s why…
So many of us didn’t get help until we were much older and had trainwrecked our lives. Our parents didn’t have the mental health information and resources that we have now. They didn’t know mental illness was a thing that could be diagnosed and treated. And so we had to white-knuckle our lives for years until we got into therapy and began to heal.
BUT NOW WE KNOW.
And that right there is powerful. We know the signs and symptoms and we can watch for them in our children and then get them the help that they need – The help we didn’t get at that age but were desperate for.
Our children are going to be okay…but only if…
- We can own our own brokenness. Maybe we need to apologize, quit (you insert what), implement some boundaries, or get into therapy…again.
- We take drastic measures. Maybe your child needs to be homeschooled, quit the extra-curricular activities, or go to a facility, go to therapy, or get on medication.
- We get into community. You and your child need to be surrounded by people who love you and who can be a positive, strong voice of encouragement as you all walk through this season. Let your child talk to other adults who have walked through similar situations. Make sure you have people in your corner who you can trust for prayer, guidance, and reason.
Watching our children suffer is so hard. Watching them suffer when we know we may have had a hand in their suffering is even worse. But we can own our part and then vulnerably and honestly talk with them and seek to get help with them. What if you did this together? What if your child saw you fighting for your own health? Sometimes our kids need to know we are going to be okay before they try to be okay.
I’d love for you to listen to my Scar Stories podcast that I did with Dena Yohe (click here). You can also purchase her book You are Not Alone from Amazon. It is specifically for parents who are trying to figure out how to care of a child with mental illness. Her daughter Renee is the backstory behind the organization To Write Love On Her Arms.
Then, I’d love for you to also listen to the podcast I did with licensed counselor Mike Brannen (click here). We talk about when and how to get our children into counseling.