Four Things Every Parent Must Know About Emotional Health
1. It Affects You
Most of us assume that our children — as they move into the excitement and opportunity of their college years — are emotionally healthy and thriving. It’s easy to think of illnesses such as depression, addiction or even suicide as problems that affect other families… not our own. In reality, studies show that emotional issues, from stress and anxiety to conditions like depression and eating disorders, are a leading impediment to academic success among college students today.
In a study commissioned for this project, most parents stated that any teenager can develop a mental health problem. But nearly two-thirds of these parents didn’t think their child was likely to experience one.
Then who will?
It’s very likely that all college-age students will deal with emotional health issues in some way, whether themselves or with a friend. Take time to better understand the emotional pitfalls college students can face — and the role you can play in protecting your child’s emotional health. This is vital for every parent and family.
2. The Sooner, The Better
When young people are struggling emotionally, it can be tough to differentiate between those who need better coping skills or a stronger support network, and those who may be dealing with a larger mental health issue. Either way, it’s prudent to reach for help at the first signs of trouble so that communication, lifestyle changes and, if necessary, treatment can begin before a student is in distress. If you are concerned about your child or another young person, talk to them, and seek help before the situation worsens.
3. The Stakes are High
For many students, emotional problems mean missing out on academic and social opportunities. For others, the stakes are much higher. Unaddressed mental health issues can lead to substance abuse and other dangerous behaviors; even suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. If you are concerned about a young person in your life, don’t put off addressing the issue — there’s far too much at risk.
4. You Can Help
Talking about issues like mental health and suicide can be tough. Studies show most parents are less comfortable talking with children about mental health than about other health topics. But you have the power to make a profound difference in your child’s life by starting a dialogue today. Remember, illnesses like depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders are real, treatable medical conditions. Helping someone address a problem and seek help is the first step to ensuring they survive and thrive.
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