Can I Prevent My Child From Getting a Mental Illness?

Mental illness is very complex. Researchers believe that each one is the result of several causes, rarely just one. While parents can do some things to help reduce the chance of a child developing a mental illness, the best current research shows that factors beyond a parent’s control are a significant part of any childhood mental illness.

In this Mental Health Guide article discusses the causes of mental illness in children and what parents can do.

The Causes of Childhood Mental Illness

Four primary causes of mental illness have been identified by researches. Again, in many cases, at least 2 of them must be involved for mental illness to develop or become severe. Here are the causes.

Genetics: A hereditary link in mental illness has been well-established. It tends to be found in families and close relatives. Researchers have concluded that the likelihood to develop a mental illness might be passed on from a parent to a child.

Biology: Brain chemistry involves chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters that allow the flow of information through the brain so that messages are received and spread effectively. When neurotransmitters are out of balance, the chemical imbalance can result is a variety of mental disorders including depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder.

Trauma: While trauma may not be a root cause of mental illness, it can trigger it in those who are susceptible to it. The trauma ranges from neglect to abuse, significant loss early in life, chronic hardship, anxiety or stress and similar maladies.

Stress: The reality is that we live in a stressful world. Children can be stressed by a number of things such as school pressure, peer pressure and other types. Stress is more of a trigger than a root cause.

Can Parents Prevent Mental Illness in Children?

It is unlikely that a parent can prevent mental illness in their children since the root causes are generally beyond a parent’s control. However, parents can watch for triggers that might cause those root causes to come to the surface. They can do all they can to prevent the child from experiencing undue trauma. If they see stress symptoms or mood changes developing in their child, they can start by talking with the child and taking other steps to help alleviate stress as a trigger for mental illness.

Talk with your child’s pediatrician about your concerns.  Learn all you can about the triggers of mental illness that you can control. Learn to spot the onset of mental illness in a child, and if you see it begin, get help for your son or daughter as soon as possible.