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Parents need to break stigma in addressing child psyche issues: Clinical Psychologist Meera Gupta

Mumbai: With one in five children facing mental health issues, there is an increasing need among parents to address the psychological issues brewing up in their children by entering into healthy conversations with them, said Meera Parekh Gupta, clinical psychologist and school counselor.

Addressing a Facebook Live session organized by Ryan International Group of Institutions on Thursday, Meera Gupta said, "Mental health in layman psychology is about making wise choices and being at peace with oneself. Parents must learn to break themselves free from the stigma on such issues. They are as difficult to address in kids as much as in adults."

Parents must observe any changing behavioral patterns in their children as some symptoms like being aloof and isolated, fighting with friends, nightmares, etc. can be indicators of a need for intervention.

Dissecting the subject in detail, Meera Gupta simplified the mental health issue into four parts including Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Learning Disability, Autism and Developmental Delay.

Children with forms of ADHD are likely to exhibit behaviors like restlessness, not being able to sit in one place and difficulty in concentrating on their studies. Learning Disability includes things like dyslexia (difficulty with reading) and dyscalculia (difficulty with numeracy).

Autism as a neurological disorder leads to communication problems in expressing while under Developmental Delay includes several milestones like walking and speaking etc. that may be delayed.

While all these above mentioned disorders in children cannot be 100% cured, they can be managed with early interventions and relevant therapies, Meera Gupta said.

At adolescent stage, peer pressure among kids may lead to substance abuse and dependency. This is also the time when discord with parents can arise. It is pertinent to note that clinical depression is different from being sad and upset, as there would be symptoms of feeling hopelessness and attempt doing harmful on oneself, she said.

Commenting on the session as part of its Growing Healthy Minds initiative, Ryan International, COO, Neti Srinivasan said, "The role of parents in bringing up a child is paramount. Several parents had reached out to us about these issues and had expressed a concern that with their hectic lifestyles and work they were unable to provide enough quality time with kids. The session was an attempt to respond to those queries and also to create some awareness to spot these issues early on so that appropriate interventions can be planned. The response from parents was immense and the session, in fact went way beyond the time allotted. We hope to build on this initiative of empowering parents."

Most parents were concerned about mobile addiction. Replying to queries from participants and parents, Gupta said, "(As parents,) we don't have to always give in to their (kid's) tantrums else they will never learn failure. It's important for the child to learn what NO means."

Avoiding too much stress on studies and the need to introduce innovative ways of teaching and learning, Gupta called upon parents to avoid comparison between two set of students that can lower their self-esteem. In order to improve a child's concentration level, she suggested the need to inculcate a habit of reading aloud and encouraging children to pursue hobbies like musical instruments.

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