I do not know what I have done wrong. Upset teenage boy trying to make his behavior clear to a professional therapist during a psychotherapeutic session.

Did you know that May 1-7 is Children’s Mental Health Week, and the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental health is just as crucial as physical health, not only for adults but for children as well. Mental health has been receiving a lot more attention lately than in previous years, with the pandemic exacerbating mental health concerns and illnesses for many people. There’s been a lot of talk about ending the stigma around mental health and creating safe places for people, including children to talk about it and get their concerns addressed.

Talking to your child’s doctor about your child’s mental health can be a source of anxiety for many parents who may not know how to address these issues. Other parents may feel as though it’s their fault their child is struggling with mental illness or they may not know what is developmentally appropriate for their children in terms of mental health and may not know how to approach the issue. Starting the conversation with your child’s doctor can feel overwhelming.

Here are some tips:

Be observant of your child’s behavior.

If something doesn’t seem right, be sure to take a lot of notes when issues occur and present them to your child’s doctor so they can understand what’s going on.

• Be supportive and understanding.

If your child has a mental illness, be supportive and understanding of those struggles to the best of your ability.

• Educate yourself on potential mental health conditions that commonly affect children.

The more you know, the better prepared you will be to discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician.

• Start with consistency.

Getting a routine for children of any age is key to keeping things running smoothly at home. It is especially true for children who may have a mental health condition. Be predictable and consistent in your child’s routines and the expectations you have of your child.

• Don’t take it personally.

If your child is having a particularly challenging day, try not to take it personally. Pay attention to triggers and reasons why your child may be having an outburst or is going through a period of sadness or low spirits. If they are old enough to talk to you about what’s going on, let them lead the conversation and don’t force the issue.

• Be open and honest with your child’s doctor.

They can’t help you if you don’t tell them what’s happening.

• Get your child involved in the process.

This could mean researching together if they are old enough, asking open-ended questions, being respectful of your child’s wishes if they aren’t ready to talk, and being patient. Actively listen to your child. Give them your undivided attention when they need you.

For more tips, click here.