This is a bone of contention in many circles. Parents often feel that their child cannot need psychiatric help because they have provided the child with a secure, satisfying childhood. More commonly, parents are unable to recognize the warning signs that their child may be crying for psychiatric help. To be fair to parents, you don’t have the training or the expertise to identify signs that your child has mental health issues, other than the more obvious ones. Even for those, parents tend to ignore them as something that will get better with age.
Mental health complications are anyway considered with a lot of stigma. When things get out of hand, parents tend to consult a psychiatrist. By getting out of hand, we mean cases when the child tries self-harm or talks about it. Usually, it is falling grades in studies which set off alarm bells in the minds of parents. When they come for psychiatric therapy, parents don’t like to admit that their child has a problem. The usual excuse is that they have given the child everything, why would the child feel depressed or anxious?
Psychiatrists advise parents to look out for some signs and symptoms to identify children who need immediate psychiatric intervention. Sudden loss of appetite, negligence of personal hygiene, withdrawal from social interactions and lack of interest in practically anything: these are good indicators. Sometimes, the symptoms are quite subtle and difficult to detect. This happens when the child is quite imaginative and intelligent in masking their true feelings and behavior. As parents, you have to be one step ahead in looking through such pretend.
As a parent, it is your duty to ensure that your child gets the best care they need: physical and mental. A trip to a psychiatrist doesn’t translate into “My child is mad.” In the same vein, don’t push your help down your child’s throat. Let them feel easy and be relaxed yourself. Let the psychiatrist dictate the flow of conversation during the session. Talk less and listen more. Try to look at your child through the fresh eyes of a psychiatrist. You will understand your child’s problem better. Supportive parents actually help resolve most cases of children with mental health issues.