As a parent, you want what’s best for your children in all aspects of their lives. This is especially true when it comes to their health. You likely would not struggle to decide whether to get treatment for your child’s broken bone or dental cavity. Yet, the decision on whether or not to get treatment for your child’s mental health disorder can be much more uncertain.
With the various concerns surrounding having and receiving treatment for a mental health disorder, hesitancy in this decision is understandable. Experiencing such doubts is expected and entirely reasonable. What’s important is to identify the specific reasons why you are hesitant and learn more about those reasons before making a decision. Having an open mind is vital.
Mental Health Concerns of Parents
There may be numerous reasons you might be hesitant about seeking treatment for your child’s mental health. Some of these might include the following:
One of the most significant factors that can prevent you from seeking treatment for your child’s mental health disorder is the concern over labels. Although this has improved in recent years, it does persist in society. Most parents want their children to fit in and feel like they belong. The fear that your child might be labeled negatively can be a legitimate concern.
Harmful labels can be attributed to any mental illness and vary depending on the specific condition. You might worry that friends, family, or colleagues will view you or your family differently if your child is diagnosed with a mental health condition. Will colleges or jobs discover their diagnosis and view it as a weakness or undesirable quality?
While such possibilities can never be entirely excluded, they shouldn’t stop you from seeking treatment. Letting their mental disorder go untreated can cause far more dire consequences than a label. Their worsening mental health conditions can affect their ability to perform at school and in social situations, limiting their potential to lead successful lives. In the most severe cases, untreated mental disorders can result in self-harm or suicide.
Stigmas and Misconceptions
Labels often attempt to name or describe someone such as intelligent, athletic, or lazy. Conversely, stigmas usually try to justify or provide reasoning behind those labels, often incorrectly. Stigmas become established in society and perpetuate, causing harm.
Some notable stigmas that might prevent you from seeking treatment for your child include:
- You are a bad parent because your child has a mental illness.
- Mental illness in a child is just a phase, and they will grow out of it eventually.
- If your child has a mental illness, there must be something wrong with you.
- Your child is dumb or incompetent because they have a mental illness.
These are common misconceptions about mental health. The environment you provide for your child can contribute to their mental health disorder development. However, there are significant aspects that are entirely out of your control. Having a child with a mental health disorder does not reflect how “good” or “bad” you are as a parent. Rather, consider your parenting strength to lie in your ability to attend to their mental health needs.
While education about mental health is helping to make these stigmas a thing of the past, they continue to persist. The belief that your child will grow out of their mental illness is among the most harmful. Some conditions do indeed improve with time, but the vast majority will persist or worsen without treatment. Prognosis and functionality are often better with earlier intervention.
Some people think there is something wrong with a parent if their child has a mental health disorder. Not only is this inaccurate, but it’s also flawed reasoning. By assuming there is a parenting problem if a child has a mental health disorder, you are assuming there is something wrong with the child. People with mental health conditions are no different than those with diabetes or high blood pressure. They are people struggling with a disease, and there’s nothing negative about that.
The belief that having a mental health disorder is equivalency to being unintelligent is a very harmful stigma. Some mental health conditions can result in learning disabilities and an IQ lower than the national average. However, that doesn’t mean that these people are not bright. Intelligence is more complicated than standardized test scores and intelligence quotients. Each person is unique and intelligent in their own way. Whether in academics, emotional intelligence, art, or one of the thousands of other categories.
Views on medication vary widely from person to person and culture to culture. They are often a significant source of reluctance to pursue treatment for a child’s mental health disorder. Parents often feel this way due to misinformation, a negative experience, or concern over possible side effects. Increased education on these concerns is often the solution.
The long list of possible side effects or adverse reactions from medications can be alarming to read. Yet, in most cases, the risk of those occurring is extremely low. Whereas the chance that your child with experience symptoms of their mental health condition without medication is usually much higher. While untreated mental illness may not come with a warning label, it can definitely be harmful. Your job as a parent is to weigh the risks of using a drug with its benefits against the risk of leaving your child’s disease untreated.
Benefits of Seeking Mental Health Treatment for Your Child
While concerns associated with mental health treatment are legitimate, you must also consider the benefits of pursuing treatment. Depending on the specific mental health disorder and its severity, untreated symptoms can devastate your child’s present and future. In comparison, improvements in their mood, social life, and school performance via treatment can set them on a path to a successful future as a fully-functional adult. By seeking treatment early, you give them the best opportunity for success.
It’s not uncommon for a parent to be hesitant about seeking help and treatment for their child’s mental health disorder. The potential reasons for this reluctance are many. You might be worried about how labels, stigmas, or medications will affect their future. While these are all reasonable concerns, it’s essential to consider the consequences of leaving their condition untreated. At Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center, we understand the difficulty of facing the news of a new mental health diagnosis in a loved one. We want to provide our clients with the facts and assist in a risk-benefit analysis so you can make the best decision for your family. Call (714) 942-4143 for more information.