July 21, 2021

When a child or teenager is diagnosed with a mental illness, it can take them a long time to get well.

Many children and teens will go through an entire hospitalization period, with doctors often prescribing medications and other treatments to help ease their symptoms.

But for many, it takes years before they are able to get out of bed and get back to their daily life. 

In some cases, there is a delay of up to 10 years, according to a 2015 report from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 

But, there are ways that parents can help ease some of the stress associated with mental health issues.

Here are some of these ways that can help your child or teen get better. 


Help with sleep and wakefulness If you or a loved one has an illness, a child may struggle to fall asleep and wake up.

This can be particularly challenging for a child who is dealing with a chronic illness. 

It’s best to help your children stay awake and keep them active, which includes playing with a light or a flashlight, keeping a journal and keeping them away from other people, according a 2015 NIMH report. 

If they’re struggling to sleep, you can help them stay awake with these simple techniques: Make sure they have a place to stay if they have been staying at a friend’s home or hotel. 

Try to get them some fresh air in the mornings. 

Put them in a room with a window. 

Bring a blanket or other soft material in the room to help them sleep. 

Give them an exercise plan. 

Use a timer to set a schedule and make sure that they don’t fall asleep too early or late. 

Ask them if they’re feeling good and to give them a little push. 

Help them get back into a routine, according an NIMHS report.

It can also help to make a regular schedule for them. 

For a child to get back on track, they need to have regular contact with the caregiver and have access to a therapist, according the NIMHC. 


Encourage self-care and physical activity Some children and teenagers are diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders and have trouble sleeping or getting up to go to school.

If they’re not getting enough sleep, this can lead to physical health issues like osteoporosis, according Toorak’s Dr. Paul Reuter, a psychiatrist who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry. 

So, it’s important for parents to take steps to support a child’s sleep and make regular physical activities a priority.

This includes encouraging them to exercise, play sports, and even get a massage. 


Help a child learn and develop a self-esteem The same research shows that parents who help a child feel like they’re important to others can help their child develop self-confidence, according Reuter.

For example, when a child is diagnosed as having a learning disability, the parents might help the child develop a sense of self-worth, according Toorak. 

Parents should also take steps for a better self-image, according Dr. Kristi Weisberg, a professor of clinical child psychology at the University of Florida.

She said that parents are also important for helping a child develop confidence in their own abilities. 

“If parents help their children to feel good about themselves and their ability to succeed, then they can build that self-acceptance,” she said. 


Set limits and boundaries in the home To help a parent keep their child’s behavior within limits, Reuter recommends that parents set limits on the amount of time each child spends alone, and set a daily limit on how much time they allow their children and their siblings to be alone together. 

To set a limit on the number of times each child can be alone with a person, parents should follow this rule: Set a daily or weekly limit on time with children and family, including when children and siblings are allowed to be with other family members. 

Set limits on how often children and children and friends can visit, and limits on when they can leave the home. 

When the family and children are at home together, a limit should be set on how long each child is allowed to stay alone with their parents, Reutner said.


Help children learn to cope Parents can also be an important source of support for children and youth who are struggling with mental illness.

It’s important to help a family member or friend learn how to deal with a child with mental or emotional problems.

Dr. James Turek, a family psychologist at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit at the Hospital for Sick Children, said that some parents can be very helpful for their child.

“They can give him a hand in getting over some of his fears and in understanding why he is struggling,” he said.

TureK said that there are several ways a parent can be helpful