It is hard work to raise a family. Bills, homework, and driving, driving, driving! What if you add to the usual demands, the extra requirements of supporting a child or youth with a mental health challenge? Doctor’s appointments, counselling, reminders to take medication, sleep disruptions, and the possible side effects of medication. It can be exhausting.
Children and youth with mental health challenges often face unique obstacles to healthy living due to the symptoms of their illness, the medication they are on, or the stigma they may face. A lack of understanding and a ‘fear of the unknown’ are often the sources of the misunderstanding and fear. This can sometimes lead to isolating individuals and families at the time when they most need support and encouragement.
Social connection and acceptance play a vital role in mental health and well-being. Recently, BC Mental Health and Addictions Services and the FORCE Society for Kids’ Mental Health developed toolkits to help overcome the obstacles to healthy living. The tool kits; one for families and another for health professionals, provide information and resources to promote healthy living in children and youth with mental health challenges. The tool kits have tips to enhance family life through healthy sleep habits, stress management, and healthy eating.
You can find a copy of the family toolkit at your local medical clinic. You can also visit http://keltymentalhealth.ca to order your own.
For more information on treatment and supports available for children and youth with mental health challenges and their families visit the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: http://keltymentalhealth.ca, or contact Sarah Stiles Birch with Child and Youth Mental Health at 250-423-5311.
By Betty Brown