As a parent or caregiver, seeing your child experience mental health symptoms for the first time is incredibly challenging. You may experience a range of feelings in addition to being tasked with finding good care for your child. The first step to receiving the support you need is understanding what options are available.

Finding the Right Provider

Finding the right provider is an important first step to receiving good care. Whether you have no knowledge of different mental health providers or are quite familiar, it can be helpful to begin with a referral. Checking with your insurance company, asking your pediatrician for a referral, or using an employee assistance program (EAP), are all great places to start. When looking for a provider, be sure to inquire about their experience working with children and teens.

Learn more about different types of mental health providers.

Medication Decisions

Deciding whether a medication would be appropriate for your child can be a challenging decision. You’ll want to take the time to carefully review medication options and talk openly with the prescribing doctor about what to expect when starting and stopping a medication. Before your child begins a medication, it is important to ask important questions such as:

  • How long will it take for the medication to be effective?
  • What should I watch for and monitor as my child takes a new medication?
  • What are any potential side effects of the medication?
  • If my child eventually needs to come off of the medication, what does that process look like?
  • How can I help support my child in the process of taking medications?

Find out more about medications for mental health conditions.

Shared Decision Making

While parents of younger children will be making decisions around what type of care to seek, children and teens should be included in the decision-making process, where developmentally appropriate. You will want to talk to your child about the importance of caring for your mental health. It’s important to create an open dialogue so that they can express any feelings they might have about receiving mental health care. Receiving mental health care can be very stigmatizing if not talked about correctly, so you’ll want to be sure to frame it as a positive opportunity to help reduce symptoms that you identify together.

Find out more about your support as a parent or caregiver based on different age ranges.

Care for Yourself

As a parent or caregiver, making time to care for yourself may take the back burner, but it is critically important to care for yourself, especially if your child is experiencing symptoms for the first time. Caring for yourself models to your child the importance of self-care. By focusing on your own sleep, nutrition, and physical activity you’ll be better positioned to help your child and set a great example while doing so.

Find out more about self-care for parents and caregivers.

Join the DBSA Parent and Caregiver Network for more support from other parents and caregivers who are also raising a child living with a mood disorder diagnosis.