How to Help a Child Struggling with a Mental Illness

There is nothing worse than watching your child suffer, and if you suspect your child is dealing with a mental illness, it can be challenging to know what steps to take. At Seneca Health Services, we offer adolescent and child outpatient services. We are here for you and your child. Continue reading to learn more about mental illness in children and how you can help a struggling child.

What is Mental Health?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of well-being in which individuals realize their abilities, cope with the everyday stresses of life, work productively and contribute to their community. However, when someone encounters hardships in life, those struggles can negatively impact their mental health over time by disrupting their thoughts, mood and behavior. For instance, WHO notes violence and socio-economic pressures as two examples of many risks to mental health. 

What is a Mental Health Disorder?

The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) defines a mental health disorder (or a mental illness) as an occasional or chronic condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior. Some examples of mental health disorders are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

Even though mental health disorders are common among adults and children, there are sadly many misconceptions that surround them. These misconceptions often leave affected individuals feeling alone, not understood and like their voices are unheard. However, if someone is struggling with a mental health disorder, we want you to know that help is available. To learn about the different types of mental health treatments we offer at Seneca Health Services, check out our blog, Different Types of Mental Health Treatments

How Can You Help A Child If They Are Mentally Struggling?

Opening up and talking with a child about their mental struggles can help reduce the seemingly powerful influence those struggles have on their life. If you think a child is struggling, it can be helpful to allow them to trust you and open up to you. For instance, they can speak to a trusted parent, family member, friend, religious leader, mental health therapist, or health care provider.

When a child enters our therapy services at Seneca Health Services, they will find compassion, companionship, understanding and more. We have therapists certified in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), adolescent and child outpatient services, among others. A trained therapist will guide interactions in a setting that encourages reflection, empathy and builds positive communication skills. Our therapists will also work in conjunction with the psychiatric medical provider if medications are needed.

What are Some Additional Ways to Help A Child?

You can do some other things to help a child if they seem to be mentally struggling. Each person is unique, so experiment with the following methods to see which ones work best:

  • Help them incorporate relaxation techniques into their day, like listening to relaxing music.
  • Monitor their diet and make sure it is balanced. 
  • Keep them physically active, such as offering to play outside with them or enrolling them in sports/hobbies.
  • Keep them hydrated.
  • Help them maintain a daily routine, i.e., go to school, play for an hour, work on homework, eat, take a bath/shower, etc.
  • Make sure they get enough sleep.
  • Keep a mood diary for them to track symptoms to see what makes them better and worse. 

How to Handle a Mental Health Crisis

If your child is having a mental health crisis, call 911 or contact a crisis service immediately. At Seneca Health Services, we provide crisis services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Our community engagement coordinators are familiar with the warning signs of many behavioral health challenges and provide prevention assistance for those struggling with suicidal ideations, substance use disorders, grief, depression, anxiety and more. 

Adolescent and Child Outpatient Services | Seneca Health Services 

At Seneca Health Services, we provide a holistic approach to substance use and mental health treatment. Our professional staff of psychiatrists, physician extenders, psychologists, therapists, nurses, case managers and other professional staff are dedicated to improving our patients’ health. Adults and children alike come to us for mental health assistance for many reasons, including anxiety, behavioral problems, personal tragedy, depression, difficulty dealing with stress, substance use disorders and more. 

We respect diversity and offer specialized services to address the needs of our patients. At Seneca Health Services, we personalize our patients’ care so that they receive adequate treatment. We listen to you and will not provide any more or any less than what you need. Seneca Health Services is always here for you whenever you are ready.

If you need help or have questions, do not hesitate to contact the Seneca office nearest you or use the link provided here.

Greenbrier County, West Virginia: (304) 497-0500

Nicholas County, West Virginia: (304) 872-2659

Pocahontas County, West Virginia: (304) 799-6865

Webster County, West Virginia: (304) 847-5425