Mental Health in Students: What Parents Need To Know

March 25, 2024|Mental Health|
A female teenager speaks to her psychiatrist.

Mental health is an increasingly pressing issue that continues to be a cause for concern among students, as a larger number of young individuals are grappling with a wide range of mental health problems, including but not limited to anxiety, depression and other related issues that affect their overall well-being and ability to function optimally. 

Consequently, the significance of mental health awareness within educational institutions, particularly schools, cannot be emphasized enough, as it benefits not only the students themselves but also their teachers and parents alike. Given the gravity of this matter, it is understandable that as a parent, you may find yourself confronted with the challenging task of determining the most effective ways to support your child and guide them through the obstacles posed by their mental health challenges. 

However, it is reassuring to note that numerous readily available resources exist to aid you in combating student anxiety and fostering a deeper understanding of mental health within the school environment, empowering you as a parent to play an active and informed role in assisting your child’s mental health journey.

The Impact of Mental Health on Students

Mental health issues can have a significant impact on a student’s academic performance, social life, and overall well-being. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 youth aged 13-18 experience a severe mental disorder at some point in their life. This can include conditions such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse.

These mental health issues can manifest in a variety of ways, including difficulty concentrating, changes in behavior and social withdrawal. They can also lead to a decline in academic performance, as students may struggle to keep up with their schoolwork while dealing with their mental health.

The Importance of Parental Guidance

As a parent, it’s important to provide guidance and support to your child when it comes to their mental health. This can include being aware of warning signs and seeking professional help if needed. It’s also crucial to create an open and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their feelings and concerns.

Here are some ways you can provide guidance and support to your child:

  • Educate yourself about mental health issues and their warning signs
  • Encourage open communication and listen to your child without judgment
  • Help your child develop healthy coping mechanisms and self-care practices
  • Seek professional help if needed and support your child through therapy or medication
  • Be patient and understanding, as recovery from mental health issues takes time

Students today are facing many unique challenges when it comes to mental health. The impact of social media on mental health of students has been monumental, and can’t be ignored when discussing student mental health. Parents should look into the impact that social media can have on young minds and think critically about what kind of access is right for your student and what kind of guidance that they may need in this space.

The Role of Parental Support

In addition to guidance, parental support is also crucial for students dealing with mental health issues. This support can come in many forms, including emotional support, practical support and financial support.

Emotional support involves being there for your child and providing a safe and understanding space for them to express their feelings. This can include offering words of encouragement, showing empathy and being a source of comfort during difficult times.

Practical support can include helping your child manage their daily tasks and responsibilities, such as schoolwork and extracurricular activities. This can also involve advocating for your child and working with their school to ensure they receive the necessary accommodations and support.

Financial support may be necessary if your child requires therapy or medication for their mental health. As a parent, it’s important to prioritize your child’s well-being and provide the necessary resources for their recovery.

How to Recognize Warning Signs

It’s important for parents to be aware of the warning signs of mental health issues in students. While every individual is different, some common warning signs to look out for include:

  • Changes in behavior, such as increased irritability or aggression
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Self-harm or talk of suicide

If you notice any of these warning signs in your child, it’s important to seek professional help and provide support and guidance.

How to Support Your Child’s Mental Health

As a parent, there are numerous ways in which you can extend your unwavering support and care for your child’s mental health and overall well-being. It is crucial to understand that your role in promoting their psychological welfare holds utmost significance. Hence, we present to you a comprehensive list of valuable tips that you should always bear in mind, enabling you to create a nurturing environment that fosters your child’s emotional stability and happiness.

Encourage Healthy Habits

Encouraging your child to develop and maintain healthy habits can have a tremendously positive impact on their mental health and overall well-being. One such habit is ensuring that they get enough sleep, which plays a crucial role in their cognitive functioning, emotional stability, and overall psychological resilience. A good night’s sleep allows their brain to rest, recharge, and process information effectively, ultimately enhancing their mood, reducing stress and improving their overall mental and emotional state. Similarly, promoting a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and diverse food groups is equally vital. Such a diet not only fuels their body but also nurtures their mind, as the foods they consume can directly influence their brain chemistry and impact their emotional and psychological well-being. By encouraging your child to make healthy food choices, you are equipping them with the necessary nutrients to optimize brain function, regulate mood and manage stress.

Additionally, engaging your child in regular physical activity is paramount for their mental health. Physical exercise promotes the release of endorphins, commonly referred to as “feel-good” chemicals, in the brain. These endorphins not only act as natural mood boosters but also alleviate stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, physical activity helps build self-confidence and resilience, enhances cognitive abilities, and provides an outlet for emotional expression. By actively fostering healthy habits in your child, you are creating a solid foundation for their mental health, empowering them to navigate life’s challenges with strength, resilience and a positive mindset.

Promote Open Communication

Creating a safe and open environment for communication is absolutely crucial and of utmost importance when it comes to supporting your child’s mental health. It is essential that you actively encourage your child to express and communicate their feelings and concerns to you, ensuring they feel comfortable doing so. When engaging in these discussions, it is essential to adopt a non-judgmental attitude and truly listen to your child’s thoughts and emotions. By doing so, you are not only demonstrating your support, but also providing them with a sense of validation and understanding. In addition to this, engaging in open and honest conversations can prove to be incredibly beneficial as it allows you, as a parent, to promptly identify any potential issues or challenges that your child may be facing, ensuring early intervention and appropriate support mechanisms are put into place.

Seek Professional Help

If you notice warning signs or your child is struggling with their mental health, it’s important to seek professional help. This can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. As a parent, it’s important to support your child through this process and be patient as they work towards recovery.

Be a Positive Role Model

Children often look to their parents as role models, so it’s important to model healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms. This can include managing stress effectively, practicing self-care and seeking help when needed. By being a positive role model, you can help your child develop healthy habits and coping strategies.

Getting the Help You Need

Hartgrove Behavioral Health is here to support you and your student when it comes to mental health needs. We offer several health and wellness resources, as well as adolescent programs for those who may need extra support. Call today at 773-433-2900 to schedule an assessment, or walk into our Chicago facility. If your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988 or take them to the nearest emergency room.


Hartgrove Hospital

Hartgrove Hospital is a Modern Behavioral Health Hospital that specializes in personalized treatment for adults, adolescents and children. We pride ourselves on delivering quality care provided by our compassionate and thoughtful staff. Our mission is to restore the emotional well-being of our patients, while giving them the proper resources for their future.

Some of our programs include our inpatient and outpatient services. As well as our trauma and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). These programs are offered with an all-encompassing psychiatric healthcare service that is both effective and efficient. Located in Chicago, IL, our facility has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 773-572-7900 .

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