Indy therapist urges parents to watch out for signs of mental illness in children

Indianapolis therapist Jessica Hood said Jan. 23, 2018, that keeping a line of communication open with kids is crucial to know if something is wrong. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — After Tuesday’s school shooting in Kentucky, one Indianapolis therapist said parents need to pay attention to what kids are saying regarding mental health safety.

Indianapolis therapist Jessica Hood said keeping that line of communication open with your kids is crucial to know if something is wrong.

As tragedies have plagued middle schools and high schools across the country, schools have upped security. But when it comes to mental health improvements, Hood said “it’s not getting any better.”

Hood said parents can often dismiss troubling behavior, attributing it to being a typical teenager. But there’s a dangerous line to watch for.

“If your kid is making statements about feeling isolated or if they start isolating themselves even more. If their grades start dropping or if there’s a change in their behavior or displaying erratic behavior. If they’re irritable or aggressive,” she said.

Some steps to take: reach out to your primary care physician and ask about the concerning behavior, or your school’s guidance counselor or a therapist. Having open conversations with your child is crucial.

“It’s about communicating with your kids and having open lines of communication with them,” she said.

That can be more difficult with social media and the risks of cyberbullying.

Know the platforms they are using, are they using Twitter, are they using Instagram, are they using Snapchat or — what are they using and how are they using it,” she said. “Are they on their phone at three in the morning. That’s probably not necessary.”

A final piece of advice from Hood: if your child is struggling, it’s nice to have an adult other than parents to reach out to. Whether that’s a coach, a pastor, or a therapist, someone else they trust and can talk to.

If you’re looking for some other symptoms to look out for regarding mental health issues, click here.