Worrying about your child’s mental health is normal if you’re experiencing similar worries. Since mental health issues in kids have become common nowadays. One in six children (6-17) in the United States will have a mental health disorder in any given year, reports the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
It’s devastating to see your child suffer from any illness, but when it comes to mental health, parents may be hesitant to seek treatment for fear of ridicule or fear that they will be blamed for their child’s problems.
By “patterns or changes in thinking, feeling, or behaving that cause distress or disrupt a person’s ability to function,” the Mayo Clinic defines mental illness or mental health disorder.
Disorders of mental health in children manifest themselves in ways that delay or disrupt otherwise typical, age-appropriate growth, thought, and behavior. Wetting the bed, experiencing anxiety about everyday situations, social anxiety, or panic attacks about things that didn’t bother him before, like going to sleep or school, are all symptoms of mental health problems that a child may be experiencing. He could start skipping class or not handing in homework.
These cases do not necessarily point to a mental disorder. However, new patterns of behavior should be noted if they occur. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if they are not functioning well or if their emotions and actions are significantly interfering with their daily life. There is no shame in worrying about your child’s mental health.
People often avoid getting the help they need because they are ashamed or embarrassed to ask for it. Consult your child’s doctor immediately if you have any worries. When children are diagnosed with mental health disorders, early intervention is crucial to preventing the development of more difficult-to-change negative patterns of behavior.
Children’s mental health problems are more common than you might think. Statistics from NAMI indicate that:
- By the age of 14, the onset of mental illness has been estimated at 50% of all cases, and by the age of 24, it rises to 75%.
- One in four adults in the United States and about one in four children receive a mental health diagnosis every year.
What factors contribute to the development of children’s mental health disorders?
When parents have a better idea of what brings on mental illness in their kids, they are less likely to be paralyzed by guilt or fear. Many parents feel responsible for their children’s mental illness. They blame themselves for their child’s bad behavior or destructive actions. One must realize that mental illness can arise from various sources.
Indicators of mental illness include:
- Genes, upbringing, and way of life all play a role.
- Factors that add up to an emotionally taxing home life or traumatic life events, like a death in the family, separation, abuse, or a serious health issue.
- Physiology and chemistry of the brain.
No single factor can be blamed for a child’s mental illness. Both genetic predisposition and environmental factors have been linked to the onset of mental health problems in children. A mental illness is not likely to be inherited from one generation to the next.
Recognize the red flags.
Knowing the difference between the normal ups and downs of childhood and the warning signs of mental illness is crucial. Because of the inevitable upheaval that comes with maturing, this can be challenging. Your child’s behavior may change as he matures and adapts to his environment.
Hormone changes during puberty can profoundly affect a young person’s mental health. Due to their ever-evolving personalities, children may have trouble distinguishing between typical behavior and that which may indicate a mental health disorder.
Here is a rundown of some red flags that you should keep an eye out for. These symptoms may not indicate that your child has a mental health issue. There’s a chance that some of these actions are just natural reactions to demanding life changes like starting a new school or getting a new sibling.
The symptoms of your child’s anxiety may be indicative of an anxiety disorder if they are persistent and have a negative impact on his daily life, despite the fact that everyone can experience anxiety. You are your child’s best advocate, so listen to your gut and be aware of the warning signs.
Among the indicators that something might be wrong with a child’s mental health are the following:
- Experiencing nervousness or apprehension.
- Being afflicted by the signs of a panic attack. There was a sudden onset of panic. The fear or discomfort is so great that it literally makes your heart race. Breathlessness and trembling are two additional symptoms of a panic attack.
- Reverting to childlike habits, such as wetting the bed.
- Depression has persisted for two weeks or more despite treatment.
- Changing one’s eating habits or losing weight by means other than exercise and a healthy diet (e.g., fasting, using laxatives, or vomiting).
- Problems falling asleep or staying asleep (beyond usual teenage exhaustion).
- Skipping class or work to avoid responsibility.
- Indicators of social anxiety. One of the hallmarks of social anxiety is a persistent and irrational dread of being observed or evaluated by other people. For example, someone suffering from social anxiety might withdraw from or avoid social situations.
- Temper tantrums and fits of rage.
- Radical shifts in one’s disposition, demeanor, or character.
- Destructive, out-of-control behavior.
- Constant discomfort in the head or stomach.
- I’m having trouble focusing.
- The student’s academic performance has dropped dramatically.
- An argument with loved ones.
- Misuse of alcoholic beverages and other drugs.
- Defeat, disinterest in once-enjoyed activities.
- My ears are telling me that there are voices.
- Being or appearing distant.
- Intentional or unintentional self-injury or other-harm.
- Bringing up the subject of suicide or death.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you’re worried about a concerning behavior pattern that goes beyond your child’s typical range.
When kids are put under pressure, their mental health can show symptoms. This may or may not be indicative of a serious mental health issue that needs medical attention. Remember that a child may need your extra attention and love during trying times like:
- The passing of a dear one.
- Family breakdowns, such as divorce or separation.
- Any significant change, such as moving to a new house, starting a new school, or gaining a new sibling.
- Life-altering events, such as surviving a pandemic, can be traumatic.
- Problems at school, like bullying or a tough teacher.
It’s important to seek support if you’re worried about your child’s mental health. You can aid your kid in the following ways:
- Your child’s pediatrician is the best person to talk to about your concerns.
- Inquire whether your child’s teacher, close friends, relatives, or other caregivers have noticed anything out of the ordinary on their watch. Talk to your kid’s doctor about this.
- Visiting a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse, or other mental health care professional may be in order if your pediatrician suggests it.
- Psychotherapy and/or medication may be part of the treatment plan suggested by your doctor.
- Your child’s specialist will conduct a physical examination, in addition to other tests and interviews, to arrive at a diagnosis and gain insight into how your child’s condition is influencing his daily life.
Possible factors to consider when making an assessment are:
- A comprehensive checkup with a doctor.
- It’s important to have a medical background.
- Past experience of distress, either physical or mental.
- Mental and physical health conditions run in the family.
- Concerns and symptoms are discussed with the parents.
- Growth and development as a child grow older.
- The study of the past.
- Discussion with the parents.
- A conversation with an analysis of the kid’s behavior.
- The child and the parents will participate in standardized testing and questionnaires.
Identifying mental health issues in children is more complex than in adults. Interviewing a child can be tricky because they may be unable to put their feelings into words. Obtaining a correct diagnosis could take some time. Don’t give up until you and your provider agree that your child is progressing.
Do what you can to support your kid’s emotional and mental health.
Knowing the specifics of your child’s mental health disorder is crucial if they have been diagnosed with one. The more you understand your child’s situation, the more you’ll be able to help.
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