A Parent’s Guide to
Family Mental Health

As a society, we haven’t always recognized the simple truth that mental health is an integral part of overall physical health. And we don’t always understand that mental health conditions often begin in childhood.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. Yet just because conditions are recognized doesn’t mean they are quickly treated. The average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is eight to 10 years. Experts say stigma plays a role in this delay.

Just as we don’t blame our child’s bones for breaking when they’ve taken a tumble, we shouldn’t consider our child’s mental health conditions to be a moral failing — and they certainly are nothing to be ashamed of. The more we know about mental health, the more we can recognize warning signs and reach out for help and treatment, and help reduce the stigma, too.

Through a partnership with the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation, Metro Parent set out to learn what parents should know about mental health and mental illness. Here, we share a wealth of knowledge about all the many issues parents should know about family mental health.

Consider this page to be your own family mental health guide and check back often. We’re continually updating and adding content that is designed to help you strengthen and maintain your own family mental health.

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What every parent should know

All kids experience periods of sadness, anxiety, irritability, even aggression — and for most, it’s a passing stage. But, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), such behaviors could also indicate a more serious problem.

Mental disorders, including anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression and other mood disorders, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders can begin in childhood. “Many adults who seek mental health treatment reflect on the impact of mental disorders on their childhood and wish they had received help sooner,” according to a NIMH publication titled Children and Mental Health: Is This Just a Stage?

Read on for more information about such topics as bullying and mental health, teen moodiness, even how to protect your own mental health in your child’s middle school years. Learn about how programs work to improve mental health at school and prioritize mental health for people of color, warning signs of suicide among teen girls, how to acknowledge stress as a family and so much more.

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Raising a Mentally Healthy Child in a Fearful World

Brought to you by Ethel & James Flinn Foundation

How to Talk to Your Kids About School Shootings: An Age-by-Age Guide

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What Are the Warning Signs of Teenage Suicide?

Brought to you by the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation
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Tips for wellness

We’re all seeking the healthiest everyday lives for our kids and ourselves. But did you know that we can establish positive habits to support our family mental health, too?

When we are better informed, we can make choices with family mental health in mind. This might be as simple as establishing routines for better sleep for the whole family, cultivating a positive attitude, learning to embrace our emotions, focusing on self-care and guarding against burnout.

Dig in to our content that is specifically designed to provide information to keep your family mental health strong and supported. Here, you’ll find many tips for wellness, including how to make mental health a priority during a crisis, how to prepare for a new school year, how to keep communicating with your tween, how to manage work-from-home stress and a lot more.

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Is Your Family Addicted to Social Media?

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Signs Your Child is Experiencing Burnout

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How to Cultivate Empathy in Your Child

Brought to you by the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation
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Mental health conditions: your family mental health guide

In order to recognize when your child’s behavior has elevated from normal and common to concerning, parents need to have solid information about the symptoms and signs of various mental health conditions.

Here, we share wisdom from experts in mental health about depression and anxiety — which can look different in children than in adults — as well as many other conditions including bipolar disorder, avoidance behavior, postpartum depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and more.

Every article provides helpful information on how to recognize signs of mental health conditions, how to help your child and your family, plus information on where to get expert help and support from licensed professionals.

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What Is Catastrophizing — and Do You Do It?

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Avoidance Behavior in Young Children

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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

A local expert decodes this mental health disorder and offers advice for supporting your loved ones with bipolar disorder.
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Brought to you by Ethel & James Flinn Foundation

The Ethel and James Flinn Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to improving the quality, scope and delivery of mental health services in Michigan. With a mission to advance well-researched best practice mental health treatment and programs that meet the needs of people in Michigan, Flinn Foundation works to reduce stigma and build awareness about mental illness, mental health and how to lead healthy, productive lives.