As a parent, how can you talk about mental health with your children, what signals should you pay attention to and when is it time to seek care? We asked our psychologist to clarify some of the most common questions regarding the mental health of children and young people.

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is when we experience problems that affect us so that it causes some type of mental suffering and difficulties, either for the person themselves or for those around them. Mental problems are common to experience at some point in life and are often about normal reactions to something difficult we are involved in. They can be more or less difficult, last for a longer or shorter time and to varying degrees affect our ability to cope with things in our everyday life. Examples of psychological problems can be worry and anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping and even suicidal thoughts. When the problems become severe enough and you get several symptoms, it can sometimes be that these symptoms meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis.

How does the process work when I, as a parent, want to seek care for my child?

When you as a parent feel that your child/youth is feeling so bad that it is difficult to help the child at home, you can seek help and support from the care provider. If you don’t really know what it is you’re struggling with or need help with, you can also contact healthcare to get help with an assessment. Sometimes it can be that the child does not want to seek help himself, and then you as a parent can still contact the care to get advice on what to do. If the child is very unwell, you should always seek help.

What happens when I come into contact with care?

You always start by contacting your health care center or what is called First line psychiatry, which are various receptions that work with milder forms of mental illness. It looks a little different in different locations, but many have special receptions or teams that work with children and young people who are unwell. For children who are younger than 6 years, you can take this up with your child care center and otherwise with your care center or pediatrician’s office. For children and young people over the age of 13, there are sometimes also youth receptions. At these receptions there are people who are used to talking about mental illness and can help you and your child find the right care and treatment based on your child’s problems. If they judge that your child has more severe problems, they can also help you get in touch with child and youth psychiatry.

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