Raising a child with a mental illness can feel overwhelming. However, parents of children with anxiety disorders, OCD, depression, and behavioral issues don’t ever need to feel alone. If you have a child suffering from OCD, for example, there are many ways to help your child learn skills to cope. For a few things you can do for a child who struggles with mental health, and specifically OCD, read on.
Get a formal diagnosis.
The first step in helping a child with a suspected mental illness is to get a formal diagnosis from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. These trained professionals will be able to untangle your child’s symptoms and make recommendations about how to treat conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Many parents are wary about bringing their child to a psychologist for a diagnosis because they don’t want their child labeled. However, in knowing what condition your child struggles with, you’ll be in a position to get them better help than if you were to tackle symptoms alone. Perhaps you’ve heard about residential programs for teenagers and worry that a diagnosis will mean extensive therapy for your adolescent far from home. The truth is that residential programs can actually be a great way to give your child skills to manage behaviors and make sense of things like racing thoughts and compulsions. Coupled with group therapy, family therapy, and strong supports, these programs can add up to giving your child the strength to get through any illness.
Learn & promote healthy coping mechanisms.
Whether you plan to send your child to residential treatment or you’re more interested in finding a treatment team near home, you can also help your child with a simple Google search for “OCD specialist near me.” Exploring listings of therapists, psychologists, residential facilities, and counselors skilled in CBT and DBT, you’ll have a better sense of your options. The right clinician will be able to give you advice about promoting healthy habits in your child whether they suffer from a mood disorder, personality disorder, or OCD alone.
Try a variety of treatments.
Mental health and treatment plans are never a “one size fits all” situation. Sometimes, it takes a few treatment approaches to help a child learn to tackle intrusive thoughts and difficult emotions. When searching for a treatment team to help your child, try to be open-minded about various approaches and therapeutic modalities. Where one mental health professional might recommend one way of treating your child, another could have an equally helpful but different approach.
Know when to compromise.
When working with your child to find the right treatment center or treatment options for their OCD, it’s important to have compassion. Even if your child has behavior issues and you’re frustrated, having open conversations with your child about their specific needs will add up to better odds of success. For children who are old enough, it can be helpful to allow them to have input in the overall plan. The reality is that most mental health conditions will stick with a child for life. Helping them to learn how to navigate psychotherapy is a great life skill they can use in the future. Your willingness to compromise when it comes to treatment plans and solutions will help build trust and empower your child to better understand their diagnosis.
In the end, you and your child will have a better quality of life if you take the next steps calmly. Start by reaching out to professionals, be open-minded about treatment facilities, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. In taking your child’s OCD one step at a time, you’ll be well on your way to peace of mind and your child will one day thank you for it.