October 27, 2023

Information for Parents of Children or Teens with Disabilities and Mental Health Issues

Living with a disability brings with its daily challenges. Sometimes those challenges can feel overwhelming and even demoralizing. Because of this, it is common for people with disabilities to suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This is particularly true for children and teenagers who, according to researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, are five times more likely to suffer from mental health issues than young people without a disability.

Symptoms of a Mental Health Issue in Young People With a Disability

The symptoms of depression and anxiety in children and teens with a disability or chronic health condition will look very similar to symptoms in other young people. The difficulty lies in spotting some of these signs because they may overlap with the physical symptoms of their condition. Still, it is crucial to keep a close eye on your child or teen to see if they are showing any of the following signs:

 · Feelings of worthlessness and helplessness

· Refusing to go to appointments or take medications

· Becoming withdrawn and stop doing activities they once enjoyed

· Getting particularly agitated

· Beginning to act out toward teachers and even medical professionals

What Can Parents Do to Help Their Children and Teenagers?

 Here are some ways you can help your child who is dealing with a disability and may also be dealing with a mental health issue:

 

Help Them Reframe

Please help your child see themselves beyond their health. Help them begin to focus on the things they are good at and the areas of life they can succeed. Help them discover new talents, passions, and interests.

 

Help Them Form a Network

Your child will have an easier time with their mental health when they have access to those like themselves. Find peer network groups for kids and teens with disabilities or chronic conditions. These may be online groups or in-person groups in your local community.

 

Seek Professional Help

 All kids and teens could use someone to talk to other than their parents. This is equally true for teens and kids with disabilities. Look for a therapist who has experience helping young people suffering from depression due to a disability or chronic condition. If travel poses an issue, you can also look for a therapist who offers online sessions. If you would like to explore treatment options for your child or teen, please contact me. I offer telehealth sessions, so if need be, your child can get help right in the comfort of their own bedroom!

 

Magdalene Acquah is a Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist. She hopes her blog can bring awareness to mental illness and help individuals seeking mental health care and support.

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