Can I Prevent Mental Health Problems in My Child?


If you’re a parent, you want to make sure your child doesn’t develop mental health problems, but can they be prevented? Learn the answer here.

Seventy-five percent of mental health and emotional disorders develop by the time a person reaches their early 20s. There’s no way to prevent major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, or autism, as researchers believe they have a strong genetic component. However, we can do a lot to reduce the incidence of common mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. At Aura Psychiatry, PLLC, board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner Farheen Makani, PMHNP-BC, and her team provide accurate diagnoses and targeted treatment for patients with a wide range of mental health conditions in the Allen, Texas, area. While you may not be able to prevent mental health problems completely, the team wants to empower you to support your child, no matter what condition they have. Understanding risks Research shows that risks for mental health problems begin even before a child is born. Children exposed in utero to tobacco and alcohol, those born prematurely, and those whose mothers have depression have an increased risk of developing mental and emotional disorders. However, trained medical personnel can screen both expectant parents and young children during routine medical appointments for risks that negatively impact the child’s mental and emotional development. Once the risks and problems are identified, doctors, social workers, and psychologists can offer educational resources for parents and other family members, as well as therapy for anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. By catching the problem and treating it early in its development, you’re more likely to have a successful outcome. Being proactive The best way to prevent mental health problems within your control is to be proactive as a caregiver to your child. If you have a mental health disorder, or if you suspect your child may be at risk for developing one, learn about the disorder and educate yourself about the best means of intervention. Don’t be shy about reaching out to a professional to help you get started and stay the course. And, if you do notice a problem developing, getting psychiatric help for both you and your child can make all the difference in the world. Promoting good mental health Medical researchers have developed programs and methods to help promote mental health. As an example, symptoms of anxiety usually appear early in life and are often a precursor of depression. Therapy for children and parents, together as a family and individually, can help treat all manner of anxiety disorders. Parents learn how to strengthen their skills and coping mechanisms so they don’t model anxious behaviors for their children. Children learn how to improve their ability to solve problems, connect with their peers, and manage distressing thoughts and feelings. And pregnant women who opt for such therapy can help prevent risks to their babies’ mental and emotional development, thereby avoiding heartache later on. Tips for preventing mental health problems These tips are useful for parents trying to manage their own mental health problems as well as those trying to prevent them from developing in their child. Encourage your child to express what they’re thinking and feeling and why. You can’t help solve the problem unless you know what the problem is. In the same way, discuss your own feelings with a spouse, trusted friend, or therapist; it will help you feel less isolated and more empowered. Get enough sleep. Sleep is the time where your body processes information from the day, cleans out the accumulated debris, and eliminates toxins. A mental health disorder can affect your sleep, and poor sleep can affect your mental well-being. If you or your child isn’t sleeping well, speak with your doctor about what to do. Eat a balanced diet. Your body needs nutrients to function and grow, and good-quality nourishment can improve your sense of well-being as well as your mood. Get enough exercise. Physical activity benefits not just your body, but also your mind. Insufficient exercise can lead to a host of physical problems, which can then put you at risk for developing mental ones. Be supportive of your child and teach them to be supportive of others. Isolation is a major risk factor for mental health concerns, while positive social engagement can help you live more fully. If you’re struggling with mental health concerns, or if you suspect your child may be developing problems, reach out to Aura Psychiatry, PLLC for expert help. To get started, call our office at 469-599-2872, or book online with us today.

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