A recent study found that nearly half of all parents have taken time off from work due to their child's mental health at some point. Yet, only a quarter of those parents say that their employer was understanding or supportive. This is a problem because it means that parents are struggling to support their children's mental health while also providing for their families. It's a lose-lose situation unless we advocate for change.
With the pandemic fueling a decline in mental health among children and teens, as well as a short supply of licensed professionals, parents are finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Even with these curveballs, parents should not have to choose between their job and their child's mental health.
Supervisors can do so much to support the mental health of their employees and their employee's children by allowing accommodations for those who need to transport their children to mental health services (such as therapy appointments). They can also provide "mental health days" as a part of their leave policies, and educate employees about the mental health resources that are available to them. In some cases, it might even be possible for an employer to facilitate on-site mental health services that are open to employees and their families.
Companies can do their part by offering benefits that support mental health. For instance, covering the cost of therapy sessions and increasing access to behavioral health services. Additionally, companies can provide mental health training for their employees to help identify mental health issues early on and learn how best to support those going through a tough time. This can help parents more quickly identify potential mental health problems at home. Most importantly, companies can do their part to break the stigma that surrounds mental health. They can accomplish this by making mental health a priority for all employees. This will in turn pass down to the employees’ families.
Mental health professionals nationwide have a duty to act when it comes to making services more accessible to those who need them. Offering telehealth sessions is one way of doing that. Oftentimes, counseling sessions and behavioral health screenings can be done anywhere there is a solid Wifi connection and video chat capabilities. This technology has already expanded the number of people who are able to access healthcare—but more access is needed. If your facility has not yet upgraded to offering telehealth appointments, please consider doing so soon. Another way the mental health community can make services more accessible is to offer a sliding-scale payment system for those who qualify.
Being a working parent is an incredible challenge, especially if you are parenting a teenager, who is slightly more at risk for experiencing mental health problems than younger children. Staying aware of potential problems is the first step in supporting your child or teen's mental health. Some ways you can do this are:
If your child is in need of mental health screening or counseling, Medens Health offers an array of screenings, as well as treatment services, for teens. We are also able to provide telehealth sessions. If you are in the California or Nevada areas, reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, or by filling out our online contact form.