The Challenge Of Raising A Mentally Ill Child

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By Staff Blogger

When you are a mother, having a sick child is a heart wrenching experience. You feel helpless because sometimes there is nothing you can do to help them. Most of us don’t even think about what it would be like to have a mentally ill child. One woman shares her story about what it is like to raise a child with mental illness.

Chrisa Hickey has an 11 year old son. When things started, she knew he was sick, but didn’t know what it was, only that it was bad. She went to her pediatrician who sent her to a specialist. After weeks of waiting for an appointment the specialist sent her to the hospital for two weeks of testing and finally a diagnosis of schizophrenia. This came before 12 hospitalizations and two suicide attempts.

Four million children in the United States have a severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Less than 20% of them receive the proper treatment because there is not enough education about the signs and symptoms in children regarding severe mental illness. This is combined with the horrible statistic that suicide k!lls more kids than cancer, diabetes, birth defects, respiratory diseases, stroke, and heart disease combined. 90% of children who commit suicide have a mental illness.

Mental illness does not just affect the child, it affects the families as well. Families become isolated because they feel they can’t talk about the illness with their friends for fear that they will not understand and will no longer invite them anywhere anymore. Many blame your parenting skills when the children have an outburst. They pinpoint your child as someone who may commit a serious crime.

If you know someone with a mentally ill child, remember this: their parents are fighting hard to save their lives, so help them as much as you can and don’t admonish them.

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