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When to Seek Help

Families are often the first to notice concerning changes in their kid’s or teen’s emotions or behaviour. Knowing when and/or how to seek professional help for them can be difficult.

Talking to your child or teen is the usually the first step to getting help – visit Hacks for Helping Kids & Teens for more information. You can also talk to others who are involved in your child’s or teen’s life and who know them well – this may be another family member, teacher, coach, doctor, nurse or other primary care provider.

Understanding early childhood, middle childhood and teen development can help you to determine whether your family’s experience is typical of development at that age and stage or if there is cause for more concern. Healthy Child Manitoba has information on development through these years, as well as information on programs, supports and strategies in Manitoba that can help.

If concerns persist over an extended period of time or if others involved in the child’s life are concerned, consider speaking with your family physician for further assessment. You could also approach your child’s school guidance counsellor or another helping professional with your concerns.

What makes a situation a crisis?

A crisis happens when someone feels desperate, hopeless or alone, with no one to turn to.

A crisis is present if someone has made a plan to hurt themselves or someone else, if they have a way to hurt themselves or someone else or if they have previously tried to hurt themselves or complete suicide.

If these statements are true about your child or teen, you need to access help right now. Go to “Need Help Now?” for more information.

Getting help

Seek emergency help immediately if your child or teen reports having suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself or others.

You should also seek help right away if your child or teen:

  • Is having trouble with alcohol or drug use, or has other mental health symptoms.
  • If their symptoms could be linked to a physical health problem.
  • Reports trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of appetite, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, extreme mood changes or other concerning symptoms.
  • Can’t explain the symptoms as being related to normal stresses of life.

Recovery & Resilience

Developing resilience – the ability to be strong and “bounce back” or recover from stress and challenges – can help to prevent problems in kids and teens.

You can help your child or teen develop resilience by:

  • Finding out about early childhood development. Healthy Child Manitoba has resources and programs providing lots of good ideas about resilience and other strengths in childhood.
  • Avoiding the use of catastrophic (very negative) language and emotional outbursts in response to stress.
  • Using positive stress management techniques in your daily life.
  • Asking ‘how’ questions rather than ‘why,’ to encourage critical thinking and teach practical problem-solving skills – for example, ask “How are you going to fix your bike chain?” instead of “Why did you leave your bike out in the rain?”

In recent years, a lot of progress has been made in understanding and treating mental health disorders. With help from a mental health professional and support from family and friends, mental health concerns are treatable and recovery can be expected.

Recovery can be thought of as part of a personal journey to feel a degree of control over and satisfaction with life and have meaningful relationships with trusted people – whether they are family members, friends or people at school or work.

Recovery also means different things to each person. For some, recovery means that no symptoms will persist, while for others, recovery means learning to live a full life despite any ongoing symptoms.

To find information on resilience, check out Links and Resources.

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