Wood's Homes Blog

Self-care vital when caring for child with mental health issues

November 23, 2018
By Jennifer Travis, Guest Contributor
Self-care vital when caring for child with mental health issues

The latest statistics show that approximately 1.2 million children in Canada have some kind of mental health condition. From depression to anxiety, the Canadian Mental Health Association says that “genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors” can all lead to the development of a mental illness.

Whether your child’s mental health challenges are minor or severe, the stress and anxiety caused by this situation can significantly impact your own mental health. Whether you believe it or not, protecting your own well-being is just as important as helping your son or daughter get the right treatment. When you stay healthy (both emotionally and physically), you are better equipped to find the best treatment and long-term solutions for your child.

Explore three of the best ways to ensure that you and your family are coping properly with the anxieties that result from caring for your child’s mental health condition.

Practice regular self-care

The anxiety that develops as a result of caring for a child with a mental illness can cause all kinds of negative emotions. Caring for your own physical and emotional health starts with an effective self-care routine. Although some individuals may think that self-care is about engaging in indulgent practices, this is actually a false representation of what it is. A self-care routine can involve taking a daily walk, getting a good night’s sleep, practicing deep breathing, and managing chronic conditions. Performing activities like the ones above will ensure that you are staying as healthy as possible, while reducing your anxiety.

Stay in the present

Keeping your thoughts in the present moment (also known as mindfulness) is an excellent way to reduce your anxiety. In fact, scientific studies have even supported this claim. When you focus on what is happening right now, you can reduce past and future-based anxieties. Rather than focusing on what might happen with your child’s condition as he or she ages, you can focus on what is in your control at the moment. Additionally, mindfulness has been shown to “relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, [and] improve sleep.” You can practice mindfulness with the use of guided online audio, or with in-person assistance.

Seek counselling from a professional

If your anxiety feels as though it is consuming your life, it might be time to seek help from a mental health professional. These individuals can assess the degree of your anxiety, and provide you with helpful tools to reduce your symptoms. If necessary, they can also prescribe medicine to treat your anxiety. 

As you work to find the right treatment options for your child’s mental health, it is perfectly normal to experience symptoms of anxiety. Know that you are not alone in this challenge, and that there are plenty of resources available to help. By practicing regular self-care, keeping your thoughts in the present, and seeking professional help, you can effectively reduce your symptoms of anxiety.