How do you rate your children’s mental health?

Cathy Brownfield

Recently I saw a video discussion by a California politician who said she was a certified teacher and a mother. She does not feel that she is qualified – even as a certified teacher – to deal with the mental health of children. She was teaching her two teenagers to be independent and hoped that if they were struggling they would go to a professional for help.


Maybe she didn’t mean it the way I interpreted it. But she was supporting legislature that would give agency to youth to make major life-changing decisions without parental involvement.

My first thought: You are kidding.

My second thought: Were you a latchkey kid?

My third thought: I am offended that anyone would want to take away my adult children’s parental rights for children they are and have been obligated to bring up to be responsible adults. Say it isn’t so.


I was compelled to scribble some words about the subject. You don’t have to agree. It’s OK.

I went online to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I found this: “Mental Health of Children and Parents – a Strong Connection.” (I invite you to take a look.) According to a recent study, “1 in 14 children has a caregiver with poor mental health.” Here are some facts to think about:

– A child’s mental health is supported by his or her parents.

– Poor mental health in parents is related to poor mental and physical health in children.

– Fathers are important for children’s good mental health.

“A child’s healthy development depends on the parents – and other caregivers who act in the role of parents – who serve as their first sources of support in becoming independent and leading healthy and successful lives,” says the CDC, citing that parents have to deal with their own problems – providing a safe home for the family, keeping food in the cupboard and on the table, keeping them all clothed, medical care. And, perhaps most importantly, who will take care of their children, keep them safe, while they are away at work earning the wages that support the family. What happens when the added crisis – replacing car tires, a medical emergency, facing eviction – happens? Depression and anxiety – other words for fear and worry – are the overwhelming blanket of despair that falls over them and advice like trading worry for concern and doing what you can, then letting it go just don’t seem to help. But maybe when we are weak, then we become strong.

It has been found that “a parent who reported poor mental health, those children were more likely to have poor general health, to have a mental, emotional or developmental disability,

to have adverse childhood experiences such as exposure to violence or family disruptions including divorce, and to be living in poverty.” Parents need resources and a good support system. Once upon a time extended families and neighborhoods were close-knit, reached out with caring and concern, offering encouragement and support when everything was thin. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” were words in action.

Fathers are as important as mothers in providing for their children’s good health and well-being. Fathers should teach their daughters how they should expect to be treated throughout their lives – with respect. Fathers should teach their sons how to become good men. And even if fathers don’t do these things, the children learn from the way their fathers treat their mothers and how their mothers treat their fathers.

There is research to suggest that if there is just one loving, caring, safe person in a child’s life, the child has a much better chance of growing up to be happy, healthy, and resilient.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email Visit the website at You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.