Knowing about mental health and the impact of technology is important for your child’s development. As a parent, simply being aware that your child may experience one or more mental health issues is an important first step. Children may have trouble vocalizing their feelings, and because of this, it is unlikely for them to ask for help. By educating yourself on the various emotions adoptees face following their adoption, you can better provide support.
There’s not enough research into the prevention of adoption-related mental health issues specifically. However, if you implement practices that have been proven to prevent other types of mental illnesses in children, your child will be significantly less likely to develop adoption-related stress and anxiety. The World Health Organization has identified a variety of evidence-based programs that could help reduce the risk of mental illness. Mental health strategies can teach the child and the parent, focusing on increasing social skills, emotional resilience, and healthy coping mechanisms. This strategy varies according to the mental health issue but is most often focused on developing these traits.
Determining which type of programs might be appropriate for your adopted child can be overwhelming. It’s crucial to reach out to a mental health professional. Your adoption team may refer you to additional resources for post-adoption support.
Signs And Symptoms Of Mental Health Issues
Early identification of mental health issues can lead to more successful treatment, so adoptive parents should know what potential mental illness looks like in a child. You should talk to your child’s doctor if they are:
- Having problems at school
- Avoiding friends and family
- Having a lack of energy
- Uninterested in cleanliness and appearance
- Struggling with self-harm
- Facing frequent mood swings
- Difficulty focusing
- Complaining of physical pain
- Bullying peers
- Feeling severe emotions
- Not sleeping well or having bad dreams
- Loss of appetite or over-eating
For mental illness in children, trust your gut. The symptoms can be a lot more subtle than adults might realize. Emotional or behavioral disorders such as outbursts are common throughout the life stages of development and they’re often normal behavior at particular periods. It’s imperative to watch for out-of-the-ordinary emotional responses that last for long periods of time or do not improve through conventional measures.
It is important for adoptive parents to be aware of their child’s exposure to drug and alcohol use or abuse. Substance abuse can often go hand-in-hand with other mental illnesses and could represent a warning sign for you.
Treatment And Support For Parents
The first step to getting help is scheduling an appointment with your family doctor. Be sure to mention your concerns specifically, so they are prepared for the appointment in advance. Sometimes, your child will be referred to a mental health specialist to assess their needs. Your family doctor will continue overseeing their physical wellness and prescribing medication.
A child with any of these challenges will usually need an array of treatments to help them both at home and at school. Depending on factors like the age of your child and the severity of their illness, treatment may include different interactive therapies, such as art, music, or play. They might also take medications to help with less desirable symptoms, like stimming or anxiety.
Special needs children often need additional support at school. There are many resources available, such as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 Plans, which help to support these children. Educators should do what they can to ensure that their students are getting the best education possible. They can do this by providing key supports like more time for assignments, separate exams, and more use of assistive technology.
As you pursue treatment for your child, don’t neglect the rest of the family. Mental illness is a debilitating disease that affects the people in your home, including yourself and your spouse. Most times, post-adoptive depression syndrome may be a condition you can suffer from too if you have recently adopted a child or fostered one. Many first-time adoptive parents experience feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation. Symptoms can include:
- Uninterested in activities that were once enjoyable
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of excessive guilt, powerlessness, worthlessness, and hopelessness
No matter their age or how well they comprehend everything, it’s common for kids to pick up strains of worry from someone struggling and not know how to deal with them. Therapy can help you learn healthy ways of coping and self-care and how best to support your sibling.
As a parent, it’s your job to love your child and communicate with him or her. Be patient while they learn and guide them by modeling the behavior you want them to show. It’s also important to remember that different kids have different learning styles, and some need more time than others. Stay connected by doing things your child enjoys. Focus on the positives and remember that no one knows your child better than you.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complimentary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.