Anxiety: A feeling of distress or unease of mind caused by fear (real or imagined) surrounding an event, situation, or action.
We all get anxious from time to time. Regardless of gender, race, age, or socioeconomic status you may struggle with anxiety. What I’m talking about is an overwhelming state of anxiety that can affect one's ability to engage in daily activities.
We have all heard about it, read about it and very likely know someone who is affected by it. According to anxietycanada.ca 12% of Canadians are diagnosed with some form of anxiety in any given year. Despite how seemingly common this all appears to be there is still very much a stigma surrounding mental illness, anxiety and it’s related disorders.
Arguably even more misunderstood are children who suffer from anxiety. You may think how could a child possibly have anything to worry about? Children’s worries and anxieties are very real but can often be disregarded or go unnoticed. Unfortunately this can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder, which often branches off into other anxieties and can even lead to depression.
As the mother of a child with generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, and OCD I feel that as common as it is among both children and adults in our society there is still very little talk that goes on surrounding it’s effects on children and the impact it has on their families.
Schools in our area are vastly understaffed and underfunded in the area of mental health and counseling support for children. It breaks my heart to think of the number of kids who have to suffer in silence because there are no resources available. That partnered with the stigma of mental illness may allow anxiety to take a bigger hold in many children when it could have perhaps been managed easily if identified and treated early.
Back in the day no one talked about anxiety and depression, and mental illness was associated with being institutionalized. In more recent years I feel like people talk about how common it is and that we need to talk about it, but no one actually does.
There are so many things that you just have to figure out on your own or through trial and error and I think that is ridiculous when we are talking about something that effects so many people. For us it has been a two and half year process to get my son the proper help and support he needed. It took a lot of questioning and pushing for answers and persistence but I am thrilled to say my precious boy is doing better now than he has in years. I’m not saying he’s been cured overnight, but having the right support and resources is allowing him to learn the skills he needs to take control over his anxiety, and given me the tools I need to back him up.
If you are out there and you have a child who struggles with anxiety and you feel as though there is no help for you and your child please please don’t give up! Know that you are definitely not alone, there is good help out there.
The fact is that anxiety is treatable. You can learn skills to help manage anxiety.
I know it’s not easy but don't stay quiet about it! Talk about it! Ask questions! Push for answers! Then share your story. Not only will that empower you and give your child support it will also empower others and help de-stigmatize mental illnesses like anxiety.