Taking Care Of Your Child’s Mental Health

May 08,2024

Read Time 4 Minutes

In children, mental health issues may be described as delays or changes in thinking, behavior, social skills, or emotional control. The different stresses of growing up, as well as events like losing a loved one, parents separating, moving, bullying, or traumatic experiences, can increase the risk of mental health difficulties. It’s important to know what warning signs to look for and how you can support your child’s mental health if they need help.

Signs Of Mental Health Issues


Children may not have the skills, language, or confidence to express how they’re feeling to their parents. Observing their behavior and checking in with other trusted people in their life can help you keep track of significant changes or signs of mental health issues, including:


  • Extreme sadness, withdrawal, or irritability 
  • Attempts at self-harm
  • Getting in fights or wanting to hurt others
  • Extreme eating habits to try losing weight
  • Intense worries or fears that disrupt daily activities
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Drastic changes in behavior or personality
  • A drop in school performance
  • Talking about death or suicide
  • Outbursts or mood swings
  • Out-of-control behavior 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches
  • Trouble concentrating



How To Help Your Child


If you notice any concerning signs or symptoms in your child’s behavior, you should talk to their doctor as soon as possible. They may suggest you visit a psychiatrist or other specialist to help assess your child’s behavior, diagnose any issues, and provide specialized treatment. As your family goes through this process, keep in mind that there are things you can do to help your child cope, such as:


  • Learning about their condition.
  • Seeking family counseling.
  • Asking for advice on how to respond to your child’s more difficult behavior.
  • Finding ways to relax and have fun together.
  • Praising their strengths and skills.
  • Working with their school to get the support your child needs.



Promoting Good Mental Health At Home


While mental health issues — like most physical ones — aren’t completely preventable, there are things you can do to foster good mental and emotional health early on. According to Mental Health America, this involves tending to your child’s emotional needs as much as their physical ones, by doing things like:


  • Giving unconditional love 
  • Encouraging self-confidence
  • Promoting playtime
  • Ensuring their environment and caregivers are safe to be around



Taking Care Of Yourself


As you’re putting the time and effort into making sure your child is supported and loved, don’t forget about yourself. We hear the advice often — you can’t pour from an empty cup. This applies when caring for a child with mental health concerns, too. Managing your own stress, worry, or frustration is an important part of being able to be the best caregiver you can be for them. Here are tips for taking care of yourself from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):


  • Notice your body’s warning signs of stress, including headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, or insomnia.
  • Protect your physical health with daily movement, good nutrition, mindfulness, and sleep.
  • Recharge by taking time for yourself, whether it’s lunch with a friend or five minutes of reading.
  • Avoid feeling guilty for any negative emotions you may experience around caregiving. Your feelings are natural and valid, try not to judge them. 
  • You may also want to look into The Parent Support Network. This program from Mental Health America offers free, confidential meetings for parents and guardians concerned about their children’s mental health.



Finding Help


If you need support, Anthem has resources available to help:


  • For those with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Anthem, you can find professional, confidential counseling for you and your household members, including a set number of visits per issue per year at no extra cost. To begin, log in at anthem.com/eap.*
  • To learn more about how your Anthem plan supports mental health, log in to anthem.com or the Sydney℠ Health app or call the Member Services number on your health plan ID card.


f you or a loved one is in crisis or experiencing an emergency, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.




Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: For Parents and Caregivers of Children (April 24, 2023): samhsa.gov.
Mayo Clinic: Mental illness in children: Know the signs (January 27, 2024): mayoclinic.org.
Mental Health America: What Every Child Needs For Good Mental Health (accessed March 2024): mhanational.org.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: Taking Care of Yourself (accessed March 2024): nami.org.

* These services are specific to those with an EAP through Anthem or an Anthem health plan. Similar services may differ with other health insurers or EAP providers. 

Online counseling is not appropriate for all kinds of problems. If you are in crisis or have suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you seek help immediately. Please call 988 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) and ask for help. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

EAP products are offered by Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc.

Sydney Health is offered through an arrangement with Carelon Digital Platforms, a separate company offering mobile application services on behalf of your health plan. 


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