As parents and caregivers, we all want to protect our children. When we climb into a car, we put on a safety belt. When we take them swimming, we make sure a responsible person is watching them. We plan and make meals that will help them grow and keep them healthy.

But do we do the same by watching our children for possible mental health problems?

Often parents who suffer a mental health problem themselves are concerned whether their children are at risk for the same or similar disorders. Many questions are asked by parents who have identified problems in their children; is it too early to get my child screened for bipolar? Should I put my child on ADHD medication? Can children develop depression?

Some common problems that many children face are: Attention deficit disorder (ADHD), trauma – domestic abuse and/or sexual abuse, eating disorders, tic disorders, depression, disruptive behavior disorder, anxiety disorders and bullying, which has become more intense and more hurtful than ever before. No longer are children affected only at school, but they are now being targeted at home too, via social media.

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How can we protect our children?

The most important step is to find out as much about mental health as possible.

To help, on the 8th November, SADAG will be hosting a free Facebook Friday online chat dedicated to helping parents and loved ones identify signs and symptoms of children’s mental health illnesses, what to do, and where to go for help.

There are two live chats planned for Friday, 8 November â?? one at 13:00 with psychiatrist, Dr Helen Clarke and psychologist Marita Rademeyer, and one in the evening at 19:00 with psychiatrist, Dr van der Westhuizen. SADAG counsellors will also be available on both sessions.

Visit their website www.sadag.org or go to our Facebook page â??The South African Depression and Anxiety Group’.