Mental Health needs of children

When parents call me seeking help for their children, most of the time all they want is an appointment ASAP. However, a few callers also want to discuss my “philosophy” of mental health. I field questions like these:

  • What might have caused our child’s anxiety, poor grades or oppositional behavior?
  • Did we (the parents) do something that produced these symptoms?
  • Can adolescents benefit from therapy if they don’t seem thrilled about coming to see the therapist?
While I am always happy to answer questions and offer support over the phone, there are some questions that don’t have a definitive answer. Mental health is affected by the interaction of multiple factors. So sometimes these conversations are complex and long. However, I do manage to reassure the parents that:
  • They did not “cause” the problem
  • It is very important that parents and family members be part of the solution
  • And, yes, children and adolescents are often not excited about going to see a therapist. But over time, a skilled therapist can engage a young patient so that s/he cooperates with treatment, and understands how therapy helps them get better.
Below is an excellent article that I would recommend to parents/guardians who have questions about the mental health needs of children. The author addresses a number of myths.

Child Mental Health: 7 Common Myths