Myth Busters: 5 Myths About Child Mental Health
Myth #1: A child with a psychiatric disorder is doomed for life.
Truth: A diagnosed psychiatric disorder is not an indication of a child’s potential for future happiness, success, and personal fulfillment. In fact, the earlier a child’s struggles are recognized and addressed – the easier it will be for the child to manage (or overcome) his or her symptoms and develop into a healthy adult.
Myth #2: Psychiatric conditions are caused by personal weakness.
Truth: It can be especially difficult with children, to separate symptoms of a psychiatric disorder from a child’s character, considering some symptoms can nearly define a young child – for example impulsive behavior or aggressiveness. However, a psychiatric disorder is an illness, just like a physical illness, not a personality type. We can’t expect children and teens to be able to overcome these challenges on their own, but with the support of their loved ones, a clear diagnosis and treatment plan, they can learn the skills and tools they need to manage their condition. Just like we would expect of a child or teen with a physical limitation.
Myth #3: Therapy for kids is a waste of time.
Truth: You may imagine a child talking about their feelings; however, treatment for many childhoods psychiatric disorders isn’t focused on talk-therapy. Today’s evidence-based treatment programs use cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that cause problems. Additionally, research has shown this type of treatment is most effective during the first few years in which symptoms appear.
Myth #4: Children are overmedicated.
Truth: Good psychiatrists are extremely careful when deciding whether and how to start a child on a treatment plan that includes medication, often in conjunction with behavioral therapy.
Myth #5: My kid will grow out of this phase.
Truth: Mental health problems left untreated in childhood become more difficult to treat in adulthood. The sooner we seek care and treatment, the better!