07-15-2018 11:53 AM
This is a great topic for discussion as it is so overwhelming when you are unsure where to go. I have had to access support services for both my daughter when she was quite young ( around 15 I think) and more recently for my 16 year old son.
With my daughter I had noticed that she had been caught up in a cycle of emotional abuse from the boy she was dating and also from so called friends at school. I had also noticed some signs of self harm and also a very unhealthy reliance on being connected through social media. I made an appointment for her through Headspace to see a counsellor. The day came and she stood at the doorway , stared me down and told me she hated me for making her do this, that she would never forgive me and that there was no way she would speak to the counsellor once in there. She did one session and never went back but it was enough for her to realise that she was in very unhealthy habits. Jump forward and she is now 21 and does not hate me ;-)
The 16 year old boy has been a harder journey. I began to notice around 6 months ago manic mood swings, rapid weight loss, inability to socialize and intense reactions to small situations. Instantly the warning bells went off for me as my brother who has bi-polar had the same symptoms from around the same age. As a family we discussed with him that his behaviours were not normal and that he may need help. he arced up against us and shut himself in his room. Later I went in and told him if he can't talk to us he needs to speak to someone. Around midnight that night he sent me a text to say that he felt he did need someone. We again accessed Headspace , however with around a four week wait I also enlisted the help of a friend who is a psychologist to informally chat with him. Once in Headspace he is now under a GP and the mental health plan with a psychologist and is on medication. The first lot of medication did not work and made him worse so always make sure that they adjust it! We also have amazing support from his school who have a plan in place for him going into year 12 to ensure that he is able to get through without compromising his mental health. He is confident enough to say on his bad days " I am not well today" which is all you can ask for.
Early intervention is the key. Don't be afraid of them hating you, it's better than the alternative.
07-15-2018 12:50 PM - edited 07-15-2018 12:56 PM
@Moggy3kids thank you so much for sharing your experiences on finding the right support services for your daughter and son. It sounds like it was a challenge initially and I agree in that we have to try to not fear our kids hating us for wanting to help them. It's good to hear that your daughter was able to recognise unhealthy habits and that your son is able to communicate when he is having a bad day. It's great that he is getting support from the GP, Psychologist and school. You are doing an amazing job and I hope you have time for some self-care too
07-16-2018 12:19 PM
There is so much lived/living experience on this thread in finding support for your child/teen
For the second week of this fortnight's Topical Tuesday, we have taken some more questions from the forums related to finding support for your teen/child:
1. What do you do if your teen/child doesn't want support?
2. How did you start the conversation with your teen about accessing support?
3. Who do you turn to with questions/for information about mental health/wellbeing?
We will post more questions later in the week so keep an eye out
07-16-2018 06:59 PM
We were initially hooked up with services through the hospital as my daughter was ending up there so often after aggressive meltdowns. We were lucky enough to be taken on board by a fabulous psychiatrist there, before moving to our local CYMHS. My daughter's counsellor got us hooked up with an awesome caseworker from the Benevolent Society who I'll love forever! She was amazing and got us through some times that felt impossible.
Because I've come in late I'm also going to answer the forum question:
'What do you do if your teen/child doesn't want support?'
Despite us having support services, my daughter didn't engage positively with counsellors until a couple of years ago. Still, our caseworker stuck with us for 2 years, supporting me as a parent and teaching me what was happening with my daughter, and ways to parent and interact with her differently. I also kept up appointments with her counsellor at CYMHS who advocated for us at meetings with the school and the Dept of Education.
I found that I could do a lot myself to indirectly help my daughter and reduce the friction at home by the way I reacted (or didn't), and by the way I communicated.
07-20-2018 04:39 PM
Our last question for the week is:
When a young person experiences mental health concerns, it affects the whole family. Where can you go to get support for you in maintaining your health and wellbeing as a parent?
If you would like some more resources on finding help for your child, check out the articles on the ReachOut Parents website here. Some ones that are really helpful are:
08-07-2018 01:03 AM
Another great service we’ve used previously, and have recently been referred to again, is Mission Australia. They offer family counselling, parenting support and outreach services for teens. They’ll meet with them in a place comfortable for the teen. We used to meet in my daughter’s favourite cafe for her appointments and they were so good with her.
I’m going back for parenting support. Last time we were with them I was studying online and needed to do 3 supervised exams which they were happy to supervise, so they really offer whatever support they can!