Counseling Corner

Month of February

Mental Health Awareness: Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide

Mental health: a topic that has been discussed more than ever in today's world. Between the increased number of school shootings, teen suicides, and gun violence in general, the world is beginning to recognize the link between this and mental health. Even pediatricians are beginning to ask parents to fill out checklists regarding emotions when a child comes in for a yearly check-up. Long ago, mental health was never discussed among adults, let alone children. Mental illness in children was rarely diagnosed, and often thought not to exist. How could a child possibly be depressed or anxious? There wasn't anything to be depressed or anxious about was a common thought. Only recently has it been discovered that the longer a mental illness has been left untreated, the worse the mental illness becomes as those people have children. Here is a study that describes the connections between grandparent, parent, and child mental illness.

The two main diagnoses for adolescents are depression and anxiety, with the possibility that a child can be dealing with both(often diagnosed as bipolar disorder).

If your child has been diagnosed with a mental illness, it is important to set them up with a child psychiatrist, child psychologist or therapist/counselor. Frequent check-ups with all of these people will balance what the medication can do to help the chemical imbalance and help your child discover coping skills to deal with the emotions. Here is a great resource for parents who have a child diagnosed with depression. It also discusses the link between depression and suicide.

Here is a parent's guide for anxiety disorders. There is also a link to an article explaining the link between social media and sleep disorders(which are linked to mental health as well).

It is important to note that only a child psychiatrist can diagnose a mental illness caused by a chemical imbalance. While many family doctors utilize checklists to diagnose, they are not specialists in the DSM manual that is used to diagnose. Chemical imbalances cannot be found unless a doctor orders an EEG. This is not common, but it is the only true way to find a chemical imbalance. The checklists that are more commonly used are sufficient to discover the possibility of mental illness, but this is not exact. Be an advocate for your child at any doctor's office you feel is too quick to diagnose a child they have not seen more than a couple times. Anyone can ask for a second opinion when there is any kind of uncertainty.