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Posted: October 29th, 2022
Social Support for Parents of Children with Chronic Mental Illness
The mental health of children is critical to their overall health and well-being. In children, mental illnesses typically impair learning, behavior, and emotional control. These mental illnesses frequently cause distress in children’s families as the entire household struggles with coping and dealing with the challenges associated with these diseases. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders are the most commonly diagnosed conditions in children (CDC, 2022). Parents of children with mental illnesses are frequently impacted because they are the primary caregivers in the majority of cases. As a result, it is critical to ensure that they receive social support in carrying out their parental responsibilities and caring for their children.
In most cases, these parents can seek professional social support or rely on personal relationships and social networks. These interventions have both advantages and disadvantages. Nurse-provided or professional social support, for example, is advantageous because parents can benefit from training on how to positively manage difficult behavior in their children. Furthermore, professional care provides access to interventions such as family-focused counseling as well as relevant information on dealing with children with mental illnesses. The two most significant potential disadvantages of seeking professional or nurse-provided social support services are access and cost. In some cases, parents of children with mental illnesses cannot afford professional help or do not have access to human resources to help them.
These parents, on the other hand, can rely on personal relationships and social networks to help them deal with their mentally ill children. A social network is a framework that defines a person’s social relationships and the nature of the ties that connect them to others. These connections can act as stress buffers. Being surrounded by familiar faces improves the functional support and coping strategies of the parents. Furthermore, these personal relationships and social networks make it easier to gather resources, such as financial support, to assist parents in their children’s treatment journey.
Despite some advantages, relying on social networks can be limited in a variety of ways. First, it is contingent on individuals within the social network being willing to assist, which is not always the case. Second, members of the social support network may lack the knowledge to provide meaningful assistance to the parents. Furthermore, the availability of members of a social network varies over time depending on the severity and setting of the illness. In lieu of these obvious disadvantages, professional or nurse-provided social support is the most effective intervention for parents of mentally ill children.
CDC (2022) Data and statistics on children’s Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html (Accessed: October 26, 2022) .
Brooks, H., Devereux-Fitzgerald, A., Richmond, L., Bee, P., Lovell, K., Caton, N., … & Rogers, A. (2022). Assessing the effectiveness of social network interventions for adults with a diagnosis of mental health problems: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of impact. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 1-19.
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