In a world where parents and caregivers help each other navigate the wide-range of challenges associated with raising our children, why do we feel so alone and overwhelmed when our children struggle with their mental health?
The vicious cycle of blame, shame, misunderstanding, and silence around the issues related to youth mental health leaves families feeling confused, powerless, and isolated.
Who can we turn to for help and advice when our child seems to be struggling with anxiety, depression, or erratic mood swings?
Open conversations about children’s mental health are typically not found on the playground or soccer fields. How do we find help for a problem that no one is talking about? More often than not, we are convinced that we are the only family in our community raising a child with mental health problems.
The truth is that mental health disorders in children are common and can, for the most part, be treated.
The current statistics show that 1 in 5 children in the United States has a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s almost 18 million children.
As with any other potentially debilitating condition, early intervention and treatment improves outcomes and makes full recovery a possibility. Armed with knowledge, support, and tools, parents CAN be at the forefront of the solutions for their children and for the community as a whole. But we can NOT do it alone and in the dark!
Peer Support Groups
No family should have to suffer in isolation while trying to care for their children’s mental health. There are peer support groups available in almost every community for a variety of challenges including, among other important issues, cancer, recovery from drug and alcohol disorder, and childhood learning disabilities. It is well known that peer support programs can make a significant difference in people’s lives.
But finding other parents who understand the challenges related to raising a child with a mental health problem is often daunting, if not impossible.
“When my son first began showing symptoms of anxiety and depression at a very young age, I felt completely overwhelmed and absolutely alone. I simply didn’t know where to turn to find help or resources,” said Randi Silverman, Founder of The Youth Mental Health Project. “Finding other parents like me and a safe place to talk openly about my fears made all of the difference for me and my family.”
The Parent Support Network™
Recognizing the utter lack of support for families, Randi and her team at The Youth Mental Health Project developed The Parent Support Network, a parent-driven, family focused program, to provide parents who are concerned about their children’s mental health with a dependable and caring network, valuable peer support, and access to peer recommended resources in their local communities.
“We must support parents if we want to support and improve the mental health of our youth,” said Randi.
The goal is to bring The Parent Support Network to every community so that parents concerned about their child’s mental health have a safe place to connect with other parents who “get it” – and to realize they are not alone.
In the inaugural year of this program, we are excited to say that seven affiliates of The Parent Support Network are running in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Oregon, supporting hundreds of families.
Brenda, one of the parent Facilitators, had this to say about her experience so far:
“I have witnessed the power of parents helping parents. Just when you feel as a parent that you are powerless to help your child, you meet other parents who completely connect with you. Knowing you are not alone can literally be life-saving. And the ripple benefit of parents sharing resources is astounding!”
Given the magnitude of this public health crisis, the time has come to harness the tremendous power of parents helping parents. But we can’t do it alone. Please help us establish affiliates of The Parent Support Network in as many communities as possible!