Common Parent Queries on Children’s Mental Health Answered by Mental Health Specialists

American youth today are facing a multitude of challenges, including social media, school shootings, the ongoing climate crisis, and the pressures of school and friendships. The US Surgeon General has warned of a growing mental health crisis among young people, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lack of access to care is also a concern with record numbers of children in need of mental health care. Experts explain that the current crisis is caused by a “melting pot” of many factors.

The most promising solution is to start building mental health resilience at an early age, in elementary schools, pediatric clinics, and within families. Schools can also be centers of support for children and offer a universal mental health support program. Missouri Mental health professionals at Children’s Mercy Kansas City state that social media not only impacts “adolescents’ perceptions of themselves and interpersonal relationships,” but also has negative effects on children’s sleep, cognitive control, and academic performance.

Mental health professionals interviewed by ABC News found that stigma is reduced when celebrities come forward about their mental health. Caregivers can build protective factors in their children to help them cope better with stress and contribute to their mental health resilience. It is important for parents and families to be people children can talk to, trust, and feel loved by.

Parents who are worried about their children should discuss mental health and monitor their children’s behavior for signs of mental health problems. The Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology provides information for parents on how to know when their child should seek professional help and how to find one. The Lifeline provides access to a trained crisis counselor 24/7 toll-free.

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