NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) hosts a class, NAMI Basics, which is a free, 6-week education program for parents and family caregivers of children and teens who are experiencing signs of behavioral or mental health concerns or who have a diagnosis.
Key Tips for Parents:
- Keep communication constant, open, and honest: Your children should not only know that they can talk to you about anything, you have to be committed to broaching topics of concern and do so openly. Talk about your own experiences and fears when you were an adolescent. Let them know that they are not alone; nor are their anxieties unique.
- Understand that mental health disorders are treatable: Arm yourself with information about the most common mental health disorders among adolescents; speak with your child’s pediatrician, your local health department, your religious leader, and your child’s school representatives about what sorts of information are available from them.
- Be attentive to your teen’s behavior: Adolescence is, indeed, a time of transition and change, but severe, dramatic, or abrupt changes in behavior can be strong indicators of serious mental health issues.
Also parents should be alert for the following “red flags”
- Excessive sleeping, beyond usual teenage fatigue, which could indicate depression or substance abuse; difficulty in sleeping, insomnia, and other sleep disorders
- Loss of self esteem
- Abandonment or loss of interest in favorite pastimes
- Unexpected and dramatic decline in academic performance
- Weight loss and loss of appetite, which could indicate an eating disorder
- Personality shifts and changes, such as aggressiveness and excess anger that are sharply out of character and could indicate psychological, drug, or sexual problems
NAMI class requires registration: please see their web page at:
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