Training Programs for Parents Help Reduce Anxiety and Suicide Among Teens

Photo: (Photo : Jonatas Domingos / Unsplash)

Parents in Iowa claim it has been difficult to receive mental health support for their children amid the coronavirus crisis. It is believed that training parents on how to give mental health support for their own children will help save more lives.

Parents Cry Out for Help for their Children

Several Iowa mothers had a meeting with the Children's Behavioral Health Systems state board this week. One of them was Sarah Nelson who had sought help for almost a week for her daughter who struggled with suicidal ideation.

Nelson said she could not get treatment for her 12-year-old daughter. Thereafter, the police took her daughter to a hospital 3 hours away. The child was placed in seclusion for 14 hours. "We do not need a system that is incompatible with our children's mental health needs. It only creates more trauma," Nelson cries out.

Nina Richtman complains of a similar case where she sought mental health services for her two adopted children, ages 12 and 13. She said the boys previously received almost 60 hours a week of therapy and support before the pandemic. "We need trained professionals who can see kids for who they are."

ALSO READ: Maine Teen Dies by Suicide After Feeling Locked at Home

Mental Health Parent-Training Program Emerges

Family Connections created a parent-training program across the country. They designed a program to help families with children who struggle with complex mental health, self-harm, suicidal behavior, and extreme emotions.

The organization claims that with support and the right skills, parents can help improve the vulnerability of their children and reduce the risk of suicide. "Treat the patient by training the parents," is what the program is all about, The Globe and Mail reported.

In several clinical trials at Yale over the course of 12 weeks of therapy, there came positive outcomes. In cases where children and teenagers were diagnosed with anxiety, they were less anxious through the support of their trained parents.

In another study in Europe, parents who were trained to prevent mental health issues in children were successful in doing so. Weekly calls from counselors are suggested to help parents better respond to their children's symptoms.

It also helps to support the parents who often blame themselves for the mental illness of their children, Lynn Courey, president of the SashBear Foundation revealed. Courey has been organizing free workshops called Family Connections.

Since the lockdown, there have been these virtual workshops that seek to train parents to help resolve their children's mental health issues. Courey said her efforts stem from losing her own daughter to suicide in 2011.

"I lost my daughter in between appointments and wait lists," Courey cried out. She said she does not want other parents to feel that sense of helplessness.

Child-Chosen Counselor

A 2018 American study found positive results when a young patient chooses a trusted adult. The adult could be a parent or caregiver who will be trained to advise the child. In most cases, the adult helped reduce high-risk suicides over at least a decade.

Furthermore, training parents is believed to be beneficial for lowering parental stress. It helps reduce the anxiety of the young patients and the parents, too.

ALSO READ: Staying Calm: 5 Ways On How To Maintain Mental Health While Staying At Home

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