Mental Health Infograph of Children and Teens

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Click on the image above to magnify the information in the graphic.

 

Children & teens susceptible to experiencing anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts that intersect with various areas of their lives. Some areas of a child’s/teen’s life that are impacted by mental illness include their school (academic performance, academic attainment), family dynamics, conflicts in the home, socially (disruptions in interpersonal relationships with peers), and personally in how one relates to themselves (i.e., low self-esteem, poor body image, etc).

It is important to keep in mind that the way in which mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are exhibited in a child/teen’s behavior may differ from how an adult experiences similar symptoms. For instance, a depressed child of nine years old may demonstrate higher levels of irritability or externalized/aggressive behavior, in comparison to a depressed adult who may miss days of work due to being unable to get out of bed.

Luckily, mental illness symptoms can be identified early (in childhood or adolescents) in order to prevent long-term debilitation and struggle. There is hope.

Thank you National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for creating this informative graphic. http://www.nami.org.

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Two Mental Health Resources to Check Out

Mental health is a topic that isn’t going to go away.

The needs for mental health services will not disappear; nor will they be silenced by the stigma that is prevalent in our society.

I was to bring attention to two resources that encourage the sharing of personal stories about mental illness and mental health. The two resources are OK2Talk (ok2talk.org) in California, USA and Walk In My Shoes (walkinmyshoes.ie) in Ireland.

Ok2Talk is a resource for pre-teens, adolescents, and transitional age youth (18-26 years old) that provides the opportunity for them to share their stories and experiences of mental illness with the world. Reading the stories, you will notice the strength, resiliency, and courage of these young people. This site is a wonderful example of the implementation of the Recovery Model that I have discussed in previous blog entries. Hope is threaded throughout all, if not most, of the stories shared. The knowledge that one is not alone in the battle they are facing with symptoms of mental illness, or even the daily struggles of a young/emerging adult, creates a sense of community among the writers. OK2Talk also provides access to immediate counseling services through their hotline 1-800-273-TALK and providing a link to MentalHealth.gov. MentalHealth.gov provides a larger database of hotlines and resources for those seeking help.

The agencies that are supporting this amazing resource of recovery for our current and younger generations are The National Association of Broadcasters (NBA), Mental Health America, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), California’s Mental Health Movement: Each Mind Matters, Bring Change to Mind (bringchange2mind.org), Active Minds, and The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.

The second resource is Walk In My Shoes in Ireland. Even though this resource isn’t based here in the United States, the site reminds us that the prevalence of mental illness is an international issue. Similar to OK2Talk, people can submit their personal stories of living with and managing a mental illness. This resource includes stories that are from youth and adults. In addition to sharing stories and fostering a sense of community, as does OK2Talk, Walk in My Shoes also raises awareness about hearing and learning about others’ experiences with mental illness by encouraging people to walk in shoes that are not necessary theirs; hence, walking in someone’s shoes.

Regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sex, gender, or race, mental health issues and one’s path towards recovery is a universal experience. Begin and continue the discussion about mental health and mental illness.

You are NOT Alone

As I begin to create my place within the social work profession and the field of mental health, I have noticed that a specific population is not being addressed or shown concern within the United States: children and adolescents of parents with a mental illness.

I fall into this category.

The reason I feel compelled to shed light onto this population is because, at the moment, no one is. No one is addressing the fact that children are impacted by parents with a mental illness.

As a child and as an adolescent, I was not fully aware of what depression was. I did not understand what it meant when my parent told me they had depression. All I understood was that it was difficult for them to get out of bed (but didn’t understand why) and noticed that they were not laughing or smiling as much as they use to (but I didn’t know what changed). There were no clear or concise answers to explain.

The knowledge of what mental illness was, at the time, was not understood until I was in an undergraduate psychology course during my freshman year. From the time my parent told me that they were experiencing depression until the time I learned fully what it was, eight years had passed. It is not the fault of my parent or family members for not having explained further; I believe it was the stigma surrounding mental illness that prevented them from explaining further. It is still the stigma that prevents the uncomfortable discussions, like that one so many years ago, from occurring even today (maybe until now). I also think that my family wanted to protect me from the truth of our reality.

Even after having learned what depression and mental illness was at the age of 18, five more years passed until I learned about two amazing resources that would have been helpful for me. The two resources that can assist children and adolescents in gaining a clearer understanding about what their parent(s) and family is experiencing is an Australian’s national initiative called Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

1. The Australian initiative called Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) promotes support and resources for children of parents who are experiencing a mental illness (COPMI, 2012). To learn more information and have access to their resources, check out the website at www.copmi.net.au.

2. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers support groups for (1) spouses and partners, (2) families and friends, or (3) parents who have a child who is experiencing a mental illness. However, there are no support groups for only children of parents with a mental illness (NAMI, 2013). For more information about the resources and support groups that NAMI provides, please visit their website at www.nami.org to find a location near you. 

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