May marks Mental Health Awareness Month; what you should watch out for in your kids

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 4:16 AM CDT|Updated: May. 1, 2023 at 5:20 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, and if you have kids, it’s a good time to check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay.

Youth mental health issues and suicides are on the rise. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 6 children or teens will experience a mental health condition at any time.

That’s why parents should be more vigilant than ever to check in on their kids.

Watch for signs like irritability, disruptions in relationships, changes in school performance, or substance abuse. Those can be signs that your child is struggling with mental illness.

It’s also important to have frequent conversations with your children and check in often to make sure they’re doing okay.

Taylor Wilson with Southwest Missouri’s division of NAMI says having these open conversations can be crucial.

“Keeping that open line of communication, you know, having that trust with your child,” said Wilson. “Seeking care from their medical provider or encouraging counseling, therapy, things like that.”

There can be a variety of things that cause mental illness in children and teenagers. According to NAMI, 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses begin before the age of 14.

Wilson says many things can cause this spike in mental illness. From social media to just having a busy schedule, lots of things can cause a child or teen to struggle with their mental health.

“Kids are so busy these days, you have school, homework, sports, music, you know, what have you,” said Wilson. “And then, of course, social media. I think the need to compare yourself to others is out there, and it’s real.”

If your child is struggling with their mental health, it’s important to reach out for help.

Parents can reach out to their pediatrician for more resources. It’s also important to talk with your child’s school counselor or nurse. They can provide help for your child as well.

Reaching out for help is crucial, says Wilson.

“There is somebody out there for you, there is somebody that is willing to help,” said Wilson. “You are worthy of love, you are wanted here, you belong here.”

For more information on mental health in young people, you can visit NAMI’s website here.

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