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Is My Child Having a Mental Health Crisis?

When should we, as parents, intervene?
September 6th, 2019  
Avatar by: Amber Lucas
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As the hustle and bustle of the new school year ensues, so does the added pressure kids are under. The academic, athletic and social pressures are like no other time, and our children are suffering. So, how do you know when your child is stressed, anxious or just having a bad day? With mainstream shows like “13 Reasons Why?”, adolescent mental illness has been brought to the forefront of many dinner conversations.

Are we over-reacting?  When should we intervene as parents? What are the signs we should be looking for a mental health crisis?

Three years ago, I got a phone call that put all of those questions immediately into play. A close teenage friend was in crisis. He was emotionally hurting and wanted to end his life. He was in the hospital, and would be okay, but we kept asking ourselves how did we let  things get to this? Over these past 3 years, the family has gone through extensive counseling, the teen has gone through counseling and all are doing remarkably well. Our family friend is not an isolated case. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 youth age 13-18 will experience a severe mental condition in their lifetime.  Below are some warning signs to look for in adolescents who may be in a mental health crisis; which is much more severe than being occasionally sad, anxious or stressed.

Signs of a Mental Health Crisis:

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If you can identify with some of these warning signs, don’t be overwhelmed and feel helpless yourself as a parent, or friend. There are a plethora of resources at your disposal and professionals who are eager to help. If you feel your child is having a mental health crisis, what can you do? Take a look at some of the specific action steps that you can take to begin the process of getting your child the help they need.

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Helpful Resources:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day/7 days a week (1-800-273-8255).  It is completely confidential and free. Their website has so many additional resources, so for further information please go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/

For overall mental wellness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has online resources and local support groups for all areas of mental illness. Find out more at https://www.nami.org/find-support

Additional sources:
http://www.acmh-mi.org/get-information/childrens-mental-health-101/expect-child-crisis/mental-health-crisis-expect-one-occurs/

https://www.kvc.org/blog/what-does-a-mental-health-crisis-look-like/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml