Deep Bench: Ways parents can support their kids with mental illness and stress

WAUSAU, Wis. (WZAW) -- With back-to-school in full swing, students are beginning to adjust to a new schedule, new teachers and maybe even a new atmosphere.

Rachel Zentner from Behavioral Health Clinic explains how parents can help with their kids' mental health (WZAW photo)

For many, new adjustments can take a toll on your child's mental health.

Rachel Zentner, a licensed professional counselor at Behavioral Health Clinic in Wausau joined the Deep Bench Tuesday to discuss how parents can best support and help their kids through mental illness and stress.

"Over half of all mental health disorders are potentially diagnoseable by the age of 14, but most of them go undetected," Zentner said.

She said unlike routine physical checkups once a year, people don't always do that with mental health.

"Oftentimes when stress starts arising with a lot of changes in the beginning of the school year, these things start to bubble up and we start to notice that kids are struggling a little more emotionally."

The best thing parents can do to recognize that something may be going on mentally with their child, is to look for behavior changes.

"If we notice that our kids are spending more time in their bedrooms. Maybe they don't want to go out for the same sports as last year, but sometimes that's a good tip-off that something's going on for our kid."

Zentner stressed that conversation and parents getting involved in their life is a big part of being supportive and helpful.

"Number two for parents, they're going to model after our behavior. We have to put our phones down. We have to focus on them. If we're there for them and they know they can talk to us, that's going to open a great relationship that conversations and topics are safe to have with us."

Finally, Zentner said parents don't have to have all the answers. They just need to be a good resource and good advocate for their kids.