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I recently read an article in Parents magazine from their May 2018 issue on mental health in children.  It’s a little alarming when you think about it, and for me it was surprising.  I’ll get to the why it was surprising in a bit.

The top 5 reasons why parents wait to get help:

  • 83% of 400 parents surveyed would wait to get help if they suspected a mental health concern in their child due to them not wanting to overreact or wanting to wait to see if the symptoms would resolve themselves.
  • 12% say mental health care is too expensive.
  • 11% were afraid their child would be labeled mentally ill.
  • 10% are afraid of receiving bad news.
  • 9% wouldn’t know where to turn.

If you’re on this page, you possibly could have come due to the nature of the page.  I’m a special needs parent.  My daughter has many health issues, including developmental delays.  She’s 3 as of this writing, and still has the mentality of a newborn.

Do I worry when I go out in public if we will be judged?  Honestly, what parent wouldn’t?  I do, but I’ve also been doing this special need parenting thing for a few years now, and I could also care less what others think of my beautiful little girl.  If they have a problem with her, then you better believe they’re going to have a problem with me.

When I read an article about the fears other parents have of talking to their pediatricians about possible concerns with mental health, I’m quite surprised.  I know I shouldn’t be.  I was that parent just a few years ago.

I can remember when Riley was 4 months old.  She started to have these muscle spasms that looked like she was startled but would have them almost rhythmically.  At the time I had no idea what it was, was doubting that it was anything at all, but I sure wasn’t afraid to talk to our pediatrician about it.  I also spoke with our neurologist about it.  The neurologist didn’t seem to be concerned at all.

It continued to happen, but it was getting worse.  I called the neurologist and insisted on another evaluation.  Again, he did not seem concerned and kept brushing it off, along with her head being pretty damn big at this point.

We, my family, and our pediatrician, decided it was time for a second opinion.  Riley had her first brain surgery within a week of the second opinion.  She was also immediately diagnosed with Infantile Spasms.

I learned my lesson early on not to wait.  If you think there may be something wrong with your child, do not wait, trust in yourself.  Get help, start with your pediatrician.  It OK to be afraid of a possible diagnosis.  Every time I walk into a doctor’s office, I fear the worst.  It’s natural.  Don’t let that stop you from getting the help your child may need.

I get it, this article is about mental health in children, but this can be applied to any concern you may have with your child.

My son, AJ, has been really afraid of loud noises lately.  We had a regularly scheduled appointment to get up to date on vaccines.  We talked about him being an extremely picky eater, but my concern was his fear of loud noises.  Every one has been telling me its no big deal, that kids all have quirks.

We took our family to a safety expo for the county.  There were all these fun events, fire trucks, police cars and motorcycles, and demonstrations.  He was so upset, scared, terrified by one of the demonstrations that he was having a panic attack.  That was the moment I knew this was more than just a “quirk” and I cried that I couldn’t help my child in any other way than to remove him from what was triggering him.

We now have some evaluations scheduled for him and hopefully we’ll be able to help overcome this fear.

The first step is acknowledging there could be something there.  Then you need to find the strength to be your child’s advocate..  The next step is following through.  You can do this… we can do this.  You need to start as soon as you know in your heart there is a problem.  Mental health in children with early intervention can be beneficial to the child.




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Sara is a mother of two, wife and full-time employee. She's also a parent of a child with special needs.