Mental health disorders in children: Here are the causes and symptoms


Children often have emotional ups and downs that affect the way they feel and behave. But sometimes they don’t ‘bounce back’ from the downs, and this starts to affect other parts of their lives. It can be a sign of mental health disorders in children.

If your child is expressing angry or violent thoughts and behaviours; extremely withdrawn and avoiding social interaction, then it might be something to worry about. Mental illness is a difficult thing to gauge, but you can see the signs when your child exhibits behaviours that are abnormal for their personality or for other children of their age.

A mental health disorder affects the way people think, feel and act. Taking care of our mental state of mind is just as important as having a healthy body. As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s mental wellness.

Causes of mental health issues in children

As there is no clear reason why some children develop mental health issues, but some things, like being exposed to traumatic experiences, can make it more likely.

mental health disorders in children
If your child behaves different pay attention! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Traumatic experiences for a child might include:

1. Having a long-term illness
2. Moving home and/or changing school
3. Being bullied
4. Witnessing domestic violence
5. Being abused
6. Parents separating or divorcing
7. Someone close to them dying

Seeing your children suffering in any way, is hugely distressing. But when it comes to mental health, then there might not be an immediate solution. The first most important step is to try and understand your child.

Symptoms and warning signs in children with mental disorders

It is crucial to recognize the symptoms and warning signs in children suffering from mental health problems so as to give them the right treatment and counselling. Some of the symptoms are:

1. Out-of-control behaviour that can be harmful
2. Drastic changes in mood, behaviour
3. Changes in eating habits
4. Loss of weight
5. Difficulty sleeping
6. Frequent headaches or stomach aches
7. Difficulty concentrating
8. Changes in academic performance
9. Avoiding or missing school
10. Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy

What you can do:

1. Parents

As a parent, you know your child best. It’s always good for parents to talk regularly with their child about how they are feeling. It helps to develop a warm and open relationship with your child. Children will feel confident sharing their emotions and will trust that you’ll listen, try to understand them and help them to work things out. Sometimes though, parents will still need to ask/talk to their ward directly if everything is alright or if something has happened.

mental health disorders in children
As a parent, spend some time with your child. Image courtesy:

2. Youth

It is just as important to take care of your mental health as it is to take care of your physical health. If you are angry, worried or sad, don’t be afraid to talk/share about your feelings and reach out to a trusted friend.

3. Healthcare professionals

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment based on updated guidelines are very important. There are resources available to help diagnose and treat children’s mental wellness.

4. Teachers/school administrators

Early identification is important so that children can get the help they need. Work with families and healthcare professionals if you have concerns about the mental state of a child in your school.

As a parent, it is your job to maintain those connections and to facilitate the treatment plan. Though the road may be difficult, your child depends on you for love and care so do everything you can to give your child what they need to succeed and grow.



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