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Myths About Pediatric Mental Health

Myths About Pediatric Mental Health, child and adolescent mental health

There are a lot of misconceptions about child and adolescent mental health. Unfortunately, what you don’t know can hurt your child. At Palms Behavioral Health, we want to ensure that parents know the truth about childhood mental illness so that they can access prompt support if it is needed.

Myth 1: Children Don’t Experience Mental Illness

Half of all mental health conditions show some sign of their presence before the person reaches the age of 14 and sometimes even earlier. Around one in five children between the ages of 13 and 18 currently have a mental illness. Unfortunately, only around half of kids and teens receive the treatment they need right away. For the rest, their condition generally continues to get worse and may lead to additional issues.

Myth 2: If a Child is Chronically Sad, Their Symptoms Will Resolve on Their Own

Many adults believe that children who are depressed will “get over it” with time, but this is generally not the case, any more than adults with depression can just “get over it.” Prompt treatment will reduce how long it takes for the person to recover, whether they are an adult or child.

Myth 3: Only Adults Experience Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide is the second most common cause of death for people ages 10-24. Depression is the mental health condition that most often leads to suicidal thoughts, but it is not the only one, so parents should always take indications of suicidal thoughts seriously.

Myth 4: There is no Treatment for Mental Illness

It is important to recognize the difference between treatment and cure. There is a wide range of effective treatments for mental health concerns. While these will not take away the person’s mental illness, they can make it manageable.

Myth 5: My Child Took Meds for Their Mental Health and Now They Are Cured

The medications that people take for their mental health don’t work the way medications do for a germ. The person’s mental health condition isn’t miraculously gone after a few doses of medicine. The medications that are given for mental health concerns typically balance out the person’s brain chemistry, so that their symptoms become manageable, but once they stop taking the medicine, their brain will return to its previous state. This is why it is often helpful for people with mental health conditions to learn coping skills and participate in therapy while also taking medication so that they have other ways to manage their mental health. 

Myth 6: Having a Mental Illness Means My Child Won’t Have A Fulfilling Life

Many people with mental health conditions work full-time jobs, raise families, and have lives that are generally healthy and productive. Getting a prompt diagnosis and treatment makes all of this more attainable. Some famous people who struggled with mental illness include Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, and Carrie Fisher.

Myth 7: When Children are Diagnosed with Mental Illness, It’s Really Just Bad Behavior

It can be simpler to label children with difficult behaviors as naughty or undisciplined when the reality is that they are struggling with a brain that isn’t functioning like the brains of their peers. Blaming children for their mental health conditions can make them feel unloveable, worthless, or defective, which makes it harder for them to recover.

Myth 8: Children Outgrow Mental Health Conditions

If you saw a friend’s child struggle with ADHD and then seemingly grow out of the condition, there may have been a lot going on behind the scenes, like medication, coping skills training, and therapy. With the right interventions, recovery can look effortless to outside observers, even when it is not. Half of adults with mental health conditions had symptoms before they reached age 14. Those early signs are often missed or ignored, which is the most sure way to delay and complicate recovery.  

Myth 9: Children Fake Mental Illness for Attention

Having a mental illness generally decreases a person’s quality of life. No child would pretend to have a mental illness. It is, however, fairly common for people to mask their symptoms so they do not appear to have a mental illness when they actually do. 

Myth 10: Parents Are to Blame for Their Childrens’ Mental Illnesses

Just because a child has a mental health condition does not mean they or their parents did anything wrong. Not all children with mental illnesses were abused. On the other hand, parents can play a substantial role in their child’s recovery. By modeling good coping skills and getting their child rapid treatment, parents can make it easier for their children to manage their own mental health.

At Palms Behavioral Health in Harlingen, Texas, we offer support to teenagers with mental illness and their families, including inpatient and outpatient treatment.

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