We feel uncertain and uneasy when talking about mental health. This is because we do not know exactly what mental illness signs are and only see the images in electronic and print media. However, know that mental health, especially of children, is something we should all be aware of. So, in today’s guide, we will see how parents can recognize mental illness in children.
Before delving into the signs of mental illness in children, here are some facts which are essential for you to know. Statistics show that 20% of children experience some form of mental health problems in their lives. Of this 20%, only 17% of children receive treatment, while 83% remain untreated. A sublime example of this is Canada, whose youth suicide rate is the 3rd highest in the industrialized world.
It is important to mention here that recognizing mental illness in children is more difficult and more complex than recognizing it in adults. This is because children’s mental illness varies from that of adults. Thus, it becomes harder to identify the signs of mental illness in youth.
Why Parents Do Not Recognize Mental Illness Signs In Children?
Here are a couple of reasons why parents do not recognize mental illness signs in children on time:
- Parents do not know the symptoms of mental disorders in children
- It is difficult to tell whether the signs are of regular or irregular behavior
- The social stigma surrounding the concept of mental disorder
- High cost and logistical challenges involved
- Children may express different symptoms than adults
You can judge a child on this scale if you know mental disorder signs in adults. This is because children express the signs differently than adults. For instance, children are more irritable when feeling a mental disorder. Whereas adults appear more sad and more gloomy when they are going through mental trauma.
So, the question stands, how can you tell if your children are going through a mental disorder? Here is how to tell:
9 Warning Signs Your Child’s Mental Health Needs Attention
If you observe extended sadness for two or more weeks in your child, then know that it is not regular behavior. Talk to your children’s school counselor and see if the behavior is the same in the school as well or not. If the problem exists at the school, it is a clear indication of a child with mental illness.
The intense feelings can include but are not limited to overwhelming fear, racing heart, and fast breath. If these feelings are becoming common in your child, it is time to be attentive.
Personality or behavior changes like anger going out of control, the desire to hurt others, and self-harm are clear signs of mental disorders in children.
Difficulty in Concentrating
Signs like difficulty in focus or sitting still for very long can indicate the mental disorder of your child. Moreover, closely observe your child’s performance in school and other activities.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Weight loss happens when your child loses appetite and gets frequent vomiting. If this is the case, your child may have symptoms of mental illness.
Although Physical aches are normal in the early ages of a child, if these are prolonged, then they can also be symptoms of emotional disorder. These disorders include stomach aches and headaches.
Physical harms include harming yourself, like cutting and burning. Moreover, it includes suicidal thoughts and self-inflicting harmful ideas. If you see this in your child, then a check-up from a mental health professional is inevitable.
Children often take help from drugs or alcohol to cope with their distress and anxiety. This is the clearest sign of a mental disorder; if you observe it, something needs to be evaluated.
Isolation From Family & Friends
Being an introvert is fine but the problem arrives when a child starts to avoid friends and family altogether. This indicates that your child is not interested in any person; instead, he prefers solitude all the time.
If you see any of these signs of mental illness in your child, make sure you react quickly and talk to a professional. You can take some immediate measures to help your child get instant relief. Below are some of the measures you can take to support a child with mental health issues.
How to Support Your Child With Mental Illness Signs?
Below are some of the ways you can support your child’s mental disorder.
- Create a comfortable environment
- Find time to talk privately
- Be an active listener while your child is talking
- Be honest in what you talk
- Express your honest observations
- Be Supportive
- Seek ways to relax and have fun with your child
- Inform your child’s school staff about the mental condition
Remember that children’s mental diagnosis is difficult as they have different ways to express it than adults. So, to make a 100% accurate diagnosis, it is indispensable to consult your child’s doctor about it. You can also talk to your child’s teacher, close friends, or loved ones about it to ensure he/she feels comfortable around people.
Once the mental illness is diagnosed, get help from trained professionals and not try different methods to avoid the social stigma.