‘A resource letter to a caregiver’

In view of this year Mental Health Day theme “ Young People and Mental health in a changing world”, one reader appealed to me to talk to parents whom have youthful children diagnosed with mental illness. Dear Parents; I must applaud you for acknowledging that indeed there is an issue to be addressed. Indeed the caregiving role comes with many challenges that include neglect of own needs as well stigma and discrimination meted out by our society. Mental illnesses can affect anyone in our society; including youth. According to the World Health Organisation, 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Neuropsychiatric disorders are seen as the leading cause of disability in the young generation. Youth are not immune from mental illnesses! Do not at all blame yourself for the situation your child is facing. It is scientifically proven that mental illnesses are caused by a combination of factors that include environmental and genetics. There are a lot of challenges faced by the youth that facilitate the development of mental illness and/or problems. In spite of all this, there should be concerted focus on family. A family is a system and efforts should be made to allow interconnectedness that has often taken the family forward. To ensure a productivity on the side of patient, remove restrictions and allow utmost interactions with others socially. Always give support to your child to take medication. Medication helps a lot in stabilising patient allowing for optimal functioning. Taking medications also helps mitigate against the development of chronicity of illness. You are bound to hear conspiracy theories and myths surrounding the child illness. Inform yourself and also seek information from mental health professionals and refrain from information that can compound the problem even further. Go for time out and debriefing sessions to recharge batteries of care giving. Individual counselling can also help if overwhelmed by the situation to the extent of affecting daily functioning. As posited by Robert Ingersoll, “we rise by lifting others.” Thank you.