Despite so many achievements, I feel like a failure with small mistakes in my life. How do I get over this?

Your question seems to revolve around self confidence and self esteem. This can be affected by how you feel about yourself and how people around you make you feel. You should be focusing more on your achievements and reinforce positivity in your thinking. There are talking therapies like CBT-Cognitive behavioral therapy that help with improving confidence and self esteem.

I need guidance on managing mental stress for my son who will be appearing boards this year. He has a lot of pressure from peers, parents, school etc.

Exam related stress is very common problem in our society. Stress can affect youngsters by disturbing their sleep, concentration, mood, making them anxious and a constant fear of being judged by people around them. We have also seen cases where youngsters have committed suicide for the same reason. My advice is that every child has their own capabilities and as parents we should help them achieve their maximum. Parents should be supportive, encourage kids to balance their life by taking breaks while studying, give them opportunities to continue their hobbies in a way that it doesn’t demand too much time. Ensure they eat healthy food and sleep well. Children who are loved by their parents unconditionally develop self acceptance and self appreciation. Children who feel good about themselves learn more easily and retain information longer.

How one should improve self confidence, is this also related to mental health?

Poor self confidence could be due to difficult life experiences, underachievement, insecurity or fear. Most of the mental illnesses affect self confidence. Depression, anxiety and stress are the most common ones. Often this is dealt with poor coping strategies like being angry, acting up, using drugs and alcohol to temporarily feel confident. It is better getting an assessment from a psychiatrist to find the cause; you could be helped with counseling or medication if required.

Too often it seems that people don’t take adolescent mental health issues seriously. They often brush off hyperactivity, anger and mild depression as personality issues and part of adolescence. Could personality issues be considered as warning signs of mental health problems?

Adolescence is a very crucial phase of life. Adolescents go through rapid physical, hormonal and emotional changes around puberty. These can be very confusing and uncomfortable for both children and parents. It is important to be aware of mental health issues that can arise around this period. Anxiety, stress, depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, eating disorders, emotional problems, smoking /drug misuse are some of the common ones. Having specialized in  Early Intervention psychosis , my suggestion is that parents look for signs in adolescents of being withdrawn, neglecting personal hygiene and socially isolating themselves, this could be an emerging psychosis and if intervened on time can be managed successfully.

Sometimes, we know people around us whose kids show signs of disorders like ADHD and autism. But it’s really difficult to put this concern forward to our friends in case they get offended. Is there a better way of managing this?

I can understand your dilemma. Since mental illness comes with associated stigma, very often parents are in denial that their kids could possibly suffer from any mental illness. As a true friend/acquaintance, I would suggest you give them clues about the condition. You could speak to them sensitively about it or send them articles and blogs of similar conditions. You should support them taking an assessment for their child, they might not necessarily have the condition but a psychiatrist could help them manage their kid’s behaviors or any other difficulties. Let me give you a brief overview of the conditions that you have mentioned.

 ADHD is a behavioral disorder which often becomes obvious in early childhood. The behaviors are due to underlying problems of poor attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Many children, especially under-fives, are inattentive and restless. This does not necessarily mean they are suffering from ADHD. The inattention or hyperactivity becomes a problem when they are exaggerated, compared with other children of the same age, and when they affect the child, their school, social and family life.

 Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders. Children and young people with ASD have particular difficulties: in 1) communicating, 2) being around people socially and with their 3) behavior

When things don’t go my way, if others don’t do their job as advised by me, I get disturbed and it affects my mental stability. How should I manage this? You need help with regulating your emotions. We all come across situations like yours. It is important to observe and feedback positively on what’s been happening without this affecting your psychological health. Read about ‘Emotional Intelligence”, it guides you to become emotionally resilient and intelligent.

Dr Daljeet kaur

Founder of DAWN Healthyminds

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