Parental Mental Health

by Jana Galarus, Family Peer Supporter

May 9, 2023

Parents and children may be dealing with Behavioral Health Issues, Mental Health, and Special Healthcare Needs and we have a lot of plates spinning in the air at once.  How do we cope with our children’s mental health?  Some of our children have ADD, ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, PTSD, Panic Disorders or Bipolar disorder.  There are so many diagnoses that I won’t name them all.  People can’t physically see mental health issues, so they are often not talked about.

How many times as a parent do you feel judged in your community, by friends, family, doctors, and by teachers at school and by special education staff.  Priests or pastors.  I think that they forget that some of us parents carry intense feelings of guilt and sometimes blame ourselves.  We question maybe if I had done this or maybe if I had done that.  I think of all the parents who have endured judgement.  It causes destruction of parents when their kids are having a mental health crisis. Think of the years of pain and isolation the child and the parents are going through.  When our children are in pain usually, we are also in pain.  When our children are having a crisis others judge us.  They think that we just have not been good parents or that we haven’t taught our children how to behave or that we as parents have done something wrong.

 That is not the case!  If our society and community would change judgement into curiosity maybe as parents and children, we would be more comfortable in talking about these mental health issues or topics.  Friends, families, and churches would reach out with compassion and ask them over for dinner or for their child to go have ice cream or just be an ear to listen to us and try and be kinder and more compassionate.  We then could explain that maybe our child doesn’t like large crowds or to be hugged or touched.  That they need specific information and not to be yelled at and how to protect and help them if they are having a moment and we are not there.  You can learn what they love to do or talk about.  This would make our worlds more inclusive of our kids and us.

Many of our children also have anxiety and panic attacks it can feel like a sense of doom or terror, your heartbeat can be rapid, you may have sweating, dizziness, nausea, shallow breathing, a feeling like you’re dying or going crazy.  There is no way to predict when a panic attack will happen.  Panic disorders can lead to other problems such as depression or abuse of alcohol or other drugs.  You may feel restless, have trouble sleeping, muscle tension, feeling moody, fatigue, or not being able to focus.  You may feel like you are on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and feelings, and you may not even understand what is happening to you or your children.

Let me tell you that there are people and services out there! You don’t have to go through this alone.  Reach out to a friend, or family member.  Contact a family peer supporter, or substance use peer support.  Reach out to a doctor, counselor, and therapist because a prompt diagnosis and treatment are vital.  Get a complete physical and mental health evaluation.  Medications can sometime help prevent attacks.  Initially treatment may be difficult but try to take an active role.  Find a therapist, counselor or doctor.  Finding a medication that works right for you can take some time.  Learning techniques from counseling can take time and practice.

Some of us can learn how to do some deep breathing exercises, meditation, self-care or find calming music and learn what the triggers are with our mental health.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.  Family Peer Support can help you find a mental health care provider.  Know that you are loved, and that people care for you.  There is hope.


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