Mental Wellness

Mental Wellness

Children with a chronic illness face a range of extra stresses and practical demands not encountered by their peers. In the specific case of arthritis this often includes episodes of pain, fatigue and mobility problems. Sometimes they are left without enough energy to participate in activities, or they need to attend hospital appointments and do physiotherapy.

Feelings of sadness, anger and fear when dealing with a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis (JIA) are completely normal and healthy. A child may also feel different from her peers, be restricted in their activities and become socially isolated. 

When these normal emotional difficulties are not dealt with, they can lead to bigger psychological adjustment problems.

While certain emotional, behavioural and educational problems do occur when having a chronic illness, it is also important to recognise the positive changes children and families report.

Positive Outcomes

Many children (the affected child and siblings) mention that they have gained a greater sense of empathy for and understanding of other people and their problems. Children appreciate the extra presents and attention they receive when they are unwell and delight in the special events, they are sometimes involved in.

It seems that although sometimes missing significant amounts of school time many children and young adults with arthritis do at least as well as their siblings or peer group in examinations and in higher education. Parents sometimes find they gain extra skills and knowledge because the situation forces them to deal with professional people and organisations in a way they have never had too before. Some couples and families describe becoming closer and learning to value the things that really matter in life.