Mental Health Matters

With a reported one in five children suffering from a treatable behavioral or mental health challenge, a number that most experts believe has increased since the onset of Covid-19, it is more important than ever to prioritize the mental wellness of our youth. Of those, only an estimated 20% of children who struggle will get the treatment and help they need to heal.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids, and it is preventable,” says Canopy’s Chief Solutions Officer, Shea Hutchins, LCSW. “Mental health is at the basis of that. The easiest thing to do is talk about it. The most effective thing to do is talk about it. And having these conversations is the starting point to healing.”

Parents and caregivers are devoted to meeting the needs of their children. When a child is hungry, they provide food. When a child has a fever, they take them to the doctor. When a child outgrows their third pair of shoes in less than a month, they (begrudgingly) buy bigger shoes. Addressing the mental health needs of a child should be no different.

From social media addiction to an international pandemic, children today are the first generation to face many significant issues at such a young age. Though caregivers may not be able to wholly empathize with these unique challenges, they must still find ways to help their children navigate the mental stress caused by these things. By being open about their own concerns and struggles, parents can initiate an honest dialogue with their children. Listening to their child’s thoughts and feelings allow caregivers to provide encouragement and offer feedback on how to best manage negative emotions.

“Children want to talk about it. They want to talk about their sadness, their depression and anxiety, but they may be scared and not know how,” says Shea Hutchins, LSCW, Canopy’s Chief Solutions Officer. “If they don’t know how to talk about their feelings and emotions, that’s when you see the behaviors. Kids that are acting out are not ‘bad kids.’ They just don’t know how to communicate and deal with the big feelings they have on the inside.”

Hart Wylie, psychiatric nurse practitioner for Canopy’s Behavioral Health Clinics adds to this, saying, “Mental illness exists on a spectrum. The earlier you get help for your child, the more likely you are to bring resolution to the issue and to prevent further complications.”

When children reveal that they are struggling mentally, parents often don’t know what to do beyond talking about the issue. Many caregivers may choose to ignore the issue out of fear. Canopy wants parents to know that support is available for both them and their children.

“What everybody needs to know about mental health is that we need to talk about it,” Hutchins states. “We need to talk about the fact that it’s okay to not be okay, but we need to make a plan to get better. And if we don’t know how to make that plan, it’s okay to reach out for help. There are people who can help. Canopy can help.”

Canopy offers several behavioral health solutions to support children coping with behavioral and mental health challenges and their families. From ADHD to Autism Spectrum Disorder to Clinical Depression and everything in between, their wide range of programs are designed to effectively treat children at any level of intensity.

The staff of Canopy truly believes that with proper interventions, children can overcome challenges, transform their lives and truly thrive. “It’s amazing to me what some time plus therapeutic attention can do for a child,” Wylie says. Hutchins supports this, saying, “We really work around hope. We believe that our future can be better than today, and we have the power to make it so.”

To learn more about the behavioral health solutions offered by Canopy, speak to a Care Coordinator at 800-388-6247.