How to navigate your child’s mental health struggles

Courtesy of Horizon Health Services

It is still early on in the school year, and many parents are seeing the effects of increased pressure placed on children in terms of their mental health and well-being. Not only are they bombarded by disturbing incidents in the news, but also they are continually having to navigate their parents’ and teachers’ expectations, peer pressure, and busy schedules. Sometimes these pressures can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression in children, affecting their behavior at home, in school, and in their communities.

As a parent or caregiver, it can be difficult to know what to look for in your child who may be experiencing struggles. Perhaps you may see an emotional and behavioral shift in your child, but don’t know where to turn to provide them with support. While each child responds differently to their emotions and feelings, there are some persistent signs to look for in a child who may be struggling.

  • Emotional outbursts or extreme irritability
  • Drastic changes in mood or personality
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Ongoing sadness or excessive crying
  • Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself
  • Avoiding or missing school
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Disinterest in attending social events with other children
  • Stomachaches or headaches

As a parent or caregiver, you know your child best. If you have concerns about your child’s behaviors, there are several ways in which you can support them.

  • Create a safe and predictable environment at home.
  • Develop consistent daily routines including sleep, wake, and mealtimes they can rely on.
  • Help children process their emotions by encouraging some quiet time, taking big belly breaths, etc.
  • Keep your child moving by going for a walk, riding a bike, or engaging in kids’ yoga, which are great for reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Listen to your child, let them know you are there to support them, and that it is okay to feel the way they are feeling.
  • Do not be fearful of reaching out for help for your child. Seeking out a professional who can help support your child is often an important step in identifying and easing their struggles.

Horizon Health Services offers mental health and substance use counseling services for children ages three and up. Our clinicians are trained to use evidence-based techniques with children, including play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. They also incorporate art, music, and dance into their therapeutic strategies. Our personalized care includes working with families to provide education and support to parents/caregivers in helping their child manage what they are experiencing. Our team is committed to providing you and your child with quality care and support. To learn more, visit or call today at 716-831-1800.