According to mentalhealth.gov, mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” It is important to be knowledgeable on the subject of mental health so that you can help your child if they start developing mental health issues.
In the United States, 1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) have a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children and some of these conditions commonly occur together. To learn more about mental disorders and treatments in U.S. children, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html.
Apraxia Kids recognizes the need for resources focused on stress, anxiety, and mental health. We hope that this blog post can provide you and your family with tips to help your Apraxia Star navigate these feelings.
Talk to your kids about mental health
Providing a safe and comfortable space for your child to openly talk about their feelings is the first step in helping your child. Talk to your Apraxia Star about mental health, what it means, how to practice healthy emotional expressions, and most importantly, how to ask for help when it is needed.
This guide by American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry offers great insight that may help you as you begin to have these conversations with your child.
Know the Signs
- It is important to notice the signs that your child may be struggling with their mental health. By noticing these signs early and talking to your child about them, you may help to prevent a more serious illness from developing. Some signs can include:
- Feels very sad, hopeless, or irritable
- Feels overly anxious or worried
- Is scared and fearful; has frequent nightmares
- Is excessively angry
- Uses alcohol or drugs
- Avoids people; wants to be alone all of the time
- Hears voices or sees things that aren’t there
- Can’t concentrate, sit still, or focus attention
- Needs to wash, clean things, or perform certain rituals many times a day
- Talks about suicide or death
- Hurts other people or animals; or damages property
- Has major changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Loses interest in friends or things usually enjoyed
- Falls behind in school or earns lower grades
List of signs from Mental Health America
Tips to Help your Child with Stress and Anxiety
Your Apraxia Star works hard every day to communicate. While other children are playing, our Apraxia Stars are often in speech therapy sessions, working on their AAC device, practicing speech at home, and so much more. It is important to note that your Apraxia Star is still a kid, and kids need time to decompress and be a kid. To prevent your child from stress, check out this resource from Kids Health that can help you understand sources of stress, signs and symptoms, and how to reduce stress. When it comes to anxiety in your child, this resource from Child Mind Institute can help you recognize what to do and not to do when your child is anxious.
Participate in in-person or virtual therapy sessions
Therapy is a great way to explore the thoughts and feelings your child may be having. By talking to a psychologist, therapist, or counselor, your child can express their feelings in a safe space while receiving professional care and advice. Many of these professionals offer virtual sessions, so you do not even need to leave the comfort of your own home to get quality mental health care. There are also apps that allow for therapy or trained listeners at the tip of your fingers wherever you are. If you are interested in learning more about online therapy services, check out this article that reviews some of the best online therapy programs.
Look up state and region-specific resources for you and your child
Many states and cities offer mental health resources on a local level. These resources can be crucial to helping your child if they begin to develop mental health issues.
Take care of your own mental health
We know that the care of your Apraxia Star often takes priority. However, if you are not taking care of yourself and your own mental health, you may not have the capacity to recognize signs of mental health struggles in your child. Make sure you are taking time for yourself and practicing self-care. This resource from Mental Health America provides steps to work towards personal goals, take care for yourself, build strong connections, and meditate. Remember, in cases of emergencies on airplanes, one is told to put on their oxygen mask first before helping others. This same sentiment should be used when helping you and your family with mental health.
Nami – National Alliance on Mental Illness provides resources and helplines to educate, advocate, listen, and lead to improve the lives of people with mental illness and their loved ones. This organization offers resources for kids, teens, and adults who may be facing mental health symptoms as well as resources for family members and caregivers who are supporting those who develop mental health conditions.
MHA – Mental Health America is a nonprofit that promotes mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all. This organization works to provide helpful resources that may help prevent a child from having mental health problems. Their resources aid parents and caregivers to recognize the signs that your child may be experiencing mental help problems.
Child Mind Institute – Child Mind Institute is the leading nonprofit in children’s mental health. This organization operates on three mission areas: Care, Education, and Science. They provide family resources and even offer resources on Back to School.
NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health provides some shareable resources on child and adolescent Mental Health. They offer shareable graphics and social media messages to help raise awareness about child and adolescent mental health.
Spark Mentoring Programs – Speak to the Potential, Ability, and Resilience inside every Kid is a non-profit organization whose mission is to cultivate human potential and resilience through an understanding of the mind. This organization offers resources for the individual child as well as mentoring programs. They offer engaging, age-appropriate lessons to increase mental well-being, resilience, emotional development, and social skills such as communication, decision-making, and problem-solving.
Remember, your Apraxia Star is stronger than most children and overcomes adversities every day as they are fighting to find their voice! This unfortunately means they are at a higher risk for developing mental health issues. By using these resources, you and your Apraxia Star can be equipped to take on any mental health issues that may present themselves in the future.
Disclaimer: Aligned with our mission, Apraxia Kids does not endorse any one method, program, or approach. Rather, we share information so families and professionals can make informed choices for children with CAS as they work to find their voices.