From two of the top child and adolescent psychiatrists at The Hospital for Sick Children comes an accessible guide to common mental health struggles, such as anxiety and depression, for any parent wondering how to help their child.
Is my child okay? Is she eating and sleeping enough? Is he hanging out with the right people? Should I be worried that she spends all her time in her room? Is this just a phase? Or a sign of something serious?
As parents, we worry about our children—about their physical health, performance at school, the types of friends they have, and, of course, their mental health. Every day seems to bring new and expanding issues and disorders and troubling statistics about the rise of mental illness in children and teens. It’s usually obvious what to do for physical injuries like broken bones, but when it comes to our children’s mental health, the answers are much less clear, and sometimes even contradictory.
Pier Bryden and Peter Szatmari, top child and adolescent psychiatrists, are here to help. Using their combined six decades working with families and kids—and their own experiences as parents—they break down the stigma of mental health illness and walk parents through the warning signs, risk factors, prevention strategies, and the process of diagnosis and treatment for mental health challenges arising from:
–Substance Use Disorders
–Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
The most important thing to remember as a parent is that you and your child are not alone. Wellness is a continuum, and there is a lot parents can do to bring their child back to a place of safety. The road ahead isn’t always easy or straightforward, but this guidebook offers essential advice that every parent needs to advocate for their child.
About the authors
Pier Bryden, MD is a psychiatrist, clinical teacher, and educator in the Department of Psychiatry at The Hospital for Sick Children and the Pre-clerkship Director of Undergraduate Medical Education and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She has attended the University of Toronto, Oxford University, and McMaster University, where she studied medicine before completing a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry and women’s mental health. She has served as Canadian Liaison to the Ethics Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, where her research focused on medical professionalism in education as well as the ethical and legal treatment of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders. She is an editor of Ars Medica, a medical literary journal published by the University of Toronto Press.
Peter Szatmari, MD, is the Chief of the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative between the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, and the University of Toronto. The head of one of the largest divisions of child and adolescent psychiatry in the world, Peter is an international expert in autism spectrum disorder and specializes in family-based treatment for children and adolescents with depression, eating disorders, oppositional behaviors, and anxiety disorders. He also holds the Patsy and Jamie Anderson Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health, and is the author of A Mind Apart: Understanding Autism and Asperger Syndrome and the coauthor of Start Here: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children and Teens through Mental Health Challenges.
“This book provides direction for parents and caregivers on who to turn to for help and it instils a sense of hope and optimism that if a child has a mental illness, there is treatment available to help the child and family manage successfully.
— JANA DAVIDSON, MD, FRCP(C), Psychiatrist-In-Chief at BC Children’s Hospital and Head of the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at UBC
“An excellent and much-needed resource for parents. Written in clear and accessible language with clinical vignettes as the focus, this book provides answers and practical advice to assist parents in recognizing when their child needs help and learning how and where to find it. A must-read for any parent grappling with mental health issues in their children.”
— HARRIET MACMILLAN, CM, MD, MSc, FRCPC, founding director of the Child Advocacy and Assessment Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital
“Having watched several friends navigate various mental health concerns with their children, I know that Start Here is such an important resource not only for parents, but also anyone who has a close relationship with a child in their lives. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and by showing us what signs of potential mental illness to watch for—and what we can do to help—this book is a step towards a healthier future for us all.”
— CYNTHIA LOYST, co-host of CTV’s The Social and author of Find Your Pleasure
“This concise, welcoming, and approachable book helps all of us develop a better understanding of mental disorders that occur in young people. It should be a must-read for parents and all those who care about our children. Knowledge provides us with the foundation we need to improve lives.”
— THE HONOURABLE STANLEY KUTCHER, M.D., former director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre at Dalhousie University
“As a parent who watched and supported my child who experienced bullying and the emotional struggles that came with it, I’m grateful for Start Here, a resource for parents to understand mental health concerns—how to recognize them early and strategies to support mental health within the home.”
— KATHERINE HAY, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone
“For any parent who has concerns about the mental health of a child (and, at one time or another, who hasn’t?), this is a must have book. Easy to read and informed by both practical experience and solid research, Start Here is written in a clear and respectful way, respectful of the child in crisis and respectful of his or her parents. And best of all, it puts the family at the center, conveying accurately that a suffering child needs strong family support to surmount his or her difficulties and families need to know how to understand what is happening and how to be there to help.”
— LANDON PEARSON, O.C., former Canadian senator and children’s rights advocate
“This important book is a front door to understanding the uncertain, bewildering, and sometimes frightening challenges that our children face in terms of mental health. The authors, both seasoned child psychiatrists, provide helpful and hopeful plain-language explanations of common and less common mental disorders and the types of treatment that can make a significant difference, while reminding parents to trust their instincts if they are worried, to focus on understanding and help rather than blame, and to realize that they are not alone.”
— DAVID S. GOLDBLOOM, OC, MD, FRCPC, Senior Medical Advisor at CAMH, and co-author with Dr. Pier Bryden of the bestselling How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist
“As a psychologist, I regularly consult with parents who are feeling overwhelmed and concerned about what to do and where to go to properly assess and treat their children’s mental health needs. In Start Here, Doctors Bryden and Szatmari share their knowledge with empathy and compassion—not only as psychiatrists at one of the world’s leading hospitals for children—but as parents themselves. I’ll be recommending this book to parents.”
— SARA DIMERMAN, psychologist and bestselling author
“I believe mental health in children is more important than dental health. I’d much rather my child have NO problems coping than NO cavities. This book shows parents what they can do to help their kids.”
— HOWIE MANDEL, comedian, actor, and Bell Let’s Talk Ambassador
“When you’re desperate to find support for your child, the mental health landscape can be challenging, and navigating it can be overwhelming. Start Here is a thoughtful, evidence-based, and highly readable guide to both understanding mental health challenges and finding the strategies and resources to help—a game changer for parents.”
— SANDRA HANINGTON and ERIC WINDELER, cofounders of Jack.org