by Karen Cruise, Family Helpline Team Leader and Nanci Schiman, MSW, CAPSW
You have probably come to us because you have a child who either has been diagnosed with a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder or who you suspect might have a mood disorder. Where do you start? First, take a breath. You’ve found us, so you are not alone. We are here to guide you through.
Next, you are going to have to do some multi-tasking. You are going to need to:
- Get support for yourself.
- Build the proper treatment team for your child.
- Expand your knowledge of depression or bipolar disorder.
- Look at how your child’s illness affects his or her education.
Don’t worry! We are going to help you! These pages are filled with advice from The Balanced Mind Foundation parents, people who collectively have dealt with all of these issues and more. You’ll also find loads of information, references to websites, books and other resources that will help you to help your child.
Getting Support for Yourself
We have listed this first because having a support system in place is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to ensure that you can go the distance in supporting and advocating for your child. Mental illness can be isolating. Connecting with other parents who have had similar experiences and who can offer comfort and encouragement will give you strength, hope and encouragement. When no one else seems to understand, when blame seems to be coming from all sides, or when you need information and ideas from other parents, connecting through our online support programs can feel like a safe harbor in the midst of a storm. All of our parent support programs are staffed by trained, experienced and understanding volunteers.
Support comes in several forms.
Our online support groups provide 24/7 access to information and support which makes them ideal for those who want more frequent interaction or who are unable to attend in person meetings. This is particularly convenient when your child is unstable and it’s difficult to get away to a meeting. Our support groups are a great way to connect with other families and develop friendships and relationships. The groups are private, which means that only other support group members can interact within the group. The groups combine the support of other parents who have had similar experiences, their collective knowledge as well as conversational, sometimes off topic discussions. Most people send and receive messages via email, however you can read and post at the website, or receive a daily digest of all posts bundled into one email. Some people prefer the digest format because it allows you to quickly skim through the day’s messages and read only those that interest you. Both types of support groups foster human connection and opportunities to help others. Join a support group today!
If you prefer a more straightforward, question and answer format, then you’ll want to try our online forums. These are discussion boards where you can post a specific question and then get responses from The Balanced Mind Foundation members or volunteers who have dealt with similar situations or who have information and resources to share. You can also search for previous discussions to see if others have had similar issues or concerns. We offer forums that focus on a variety of issues such as education, medications, complementary and alternative medications as well as our general forum. All messages are posted and read at the Web site, there is no communication through email.