Signs of Mental Illness in Children

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Mental IllnessIn children, mental illness can be hard to identify, leaving many without the treatment they could benefit from.[1] Even parents who can see the signs of mental illness can have a difficult time distinguishing it from normal childhood behavior.1 The stigma of mental illness, the use of medicines, and the cost of treatment are also common factors that prevent parents from seeking care for their child with a suspected mental illness.1

Children can experience a wide range of mental health conditions:1

There are many warning signs of mental illness, although they can be difficult to spot:1

If you suspect that your child may have a mental health condition, consult your child’s doctor and describe the behaviors that concern you.1 Talk to your child’s teacher, friends, and loved ones to see if they’ve noticed any changes in your child’s behavior.1

To make a diagnosis, your doctor may suggest that your child be evaluated by a psychiatrist.1 The psychiatrist will work with you and your child to determine if he or she has a mental health condition.1 They will also look for other possible causes of your child’s behavior, such as medical conditions or trauma.1 Although the process can be difficult, treatment is needed to improve the life of your child.1 Oftentimes, therapy is the first form of treatment, followed by prescribed medicines, if necessary.1

Throughout the process, your child needs your full support.1 They may be experiencing feelings of helplessness, anger, and frustration—just like you.1 Your mental health provider can give you tips on how to interact with your child and handle their behavior.1 You may be asked to praise his or her strengths and abilities, practice stress management, and respond calmly in stressful situations.1 Family counseling is often a good way to learn to cope with your family situation.1

Above all else, always seek advice.1 Don’t avoid getting your child help due to fear or shame.1 With the appropriate supports, your child can soon thrive again.1

[1] Mental illness in children: Know the signs. (2012, February 25). Tastylia italy Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 25, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mental-illness-in-children/MY01915/NSECTIONGROUP=2

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