Photo background with rain. Text: Helping your child with mental illness can feel like trying to stop the rain from falling.

Approximately 1 out of 5 children in Canada has a diagnosable mental health condition. As parents, we want the best for our children.

What are some strategies you can use to help your child?

Be Aware Of Signs And Symptoms

It's essential that you keep an eye out for signs and symptoms such as:

  • Changes in behavior — sleeplessness or interrupted sleeping

  • Changes in feelings and emotions — persistent sadness

  • Changes in thinking — excessive worrying or fear about something

  • Physical symptoms like stomach pain that might reveal mental changes

You can find more detailed lists of symptoms and signs from professional health organizations.

Teenager looking sad

Quiz

Your child is experiencing some challenges. Which one is most likely to be a warning sign of mental health concerns?

A fight with a friend

Two weeks without good sleep

Refusing to eat dinner one time

Wanting to rest when sick

Seek Professional Help

As soon as you notice signs and symptoms, it's important to get professional help for your child.

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Your child's doctor can refer you to a licensed mental health professional, or you can seek referrals from your trusted community network.

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If you think the first available practitioner isn't the right fit for your child, this Byte will help you choose one who is. If a referred professional has a full practice, ask them for another referral until you find someone who connects with you and your child.

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If cost is a barrier to seeking treatment, check with your local public health agency or your child's doctor for resources to help financially with mental health treatment for children.

Doctor pointing at text

Educate Yourself

Learning more about your child's mental health condition will give you some control and let you care for your child in ways that help both of you.

  • Read books from credible authors on the subject

  • Do online research

  • Take a class

  • Ask your child's doctor or mental health provider questions to become knowledgeable about their condition

Man with audio headset and text that reads

Educate Your Child And Caregivers

Mom helping child research on computer

Your child should know about their mental health condition. You can make the topic appropriate for their age, but it's essential for them to know about what it is, why it's happening, and helpful strategies to manage it.

  • Younger children are curious and may ask you questions. Answer their questions as best you can or ask their mental health provider if you need more information.

  • Older children may want to look for answers themselves. Direct them to medically correct information online so they're factually informed.

Caregivers, teachers, and other adults in your child's life will benefit from a working knowledge of your child's condition.

Schedule time to share what they need to know and strategies to help them work with your child.

Photo of teacher helping student sitting at desk

Support Yourself And Your Family

Your child needs a healthy support network, so you have to feel supported, too! Your relationship with your child will thrive when other relationships are strong.

  • Consider family or personal counseling to cope and gain strategies or support

  • Seek out parental support networks locally or online

  • Make quality time for your other children and partner, if applicable

  • Make quality time for yourself

1 man and 2 women sitting in support group circle

Take Action

Under an umbrella while it's raining with text: But there are ways that you can help them weather the storm.

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This Byte has been authored by

SO

Susan Ogilvie

Instructional Designer