Mental illness is most damaging when it goes undetected or ignored. It’s important to know that mental illness is a common ingredient in suicide— and it’s much more common than we’d like it to be. We need to be informed so we can notice signs of mental illness in our kids—if and when they occur. No parent wants to admit, “My child has a mental illness.” Yet mental illness is not a condemnation of our parenting or of our children. It’s something that can be addressed and worked through.
This section will help you know the signs and symptoms of certain mental illnesses and what to look for, and know the steps to take if symptoms are present so you can address the situation before it leads to suicidal thoughts. We start by comparing what’s normal with true mental illness. Then we take a close look at depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We’ll address the issue of medication briefly, and end this section with some thoughts on how to find a good therapist if your child’s situation calls for that form of outside assistance.