Most of us often dismiss the idea of mental health. We fail to believe that is has a lot more to do than having a peaceful mind and positive thoughts. Your overall mental health greatly depends on emotions, moods, and social situations.
Mental health can get disturbed at any age. You don’t have to be an adult to experience stress. Stress at school, workplace, trauma, and even genetics could mess up with your mental health. Children are as vulnerable as adults to experience stress and mental health issues making it all the more necessary to learn about the signs.
Mental Health Issues in Children
There are varying impacts of mental health issues on people in children. In children, you would see a change in eating and sleeping habits as well as energy levels. More severe kind of complications could include aggressive behavior towards family and peers, staying alone, and avoiding social interactions.
If you notice these signs in your children, you should talk to them. The first and foremost thing that parents can do for their kids, who might be suffering from poor mental health is to talk to them. If you have a warm and open relationship with your children, they can tell you what is troubling them. The most important thing is that, as parents, you don’t invalidate their feelings. Listen to them; take their thoughts and concerns seriously. They might want encouragement from you, a hug, or just a pat on the shoulder.
See that you approach the subject directly. You should let them know that you are concerned about them and why you are having this discussion with them.
Here are a few helpful ways:
- Have a flexible attitude. Your child could be feeling confused or upset, so you should try to adopt a different line of questioning. Do not expect them to tell you everything right away. It might take some time for them to become ready to talk to you.
- See that you provide a safe and comfortable environment for your child while communicating with them.
- If your child is in elementary or preschool, see that you do not overwhelm them with asking or telling them too much.
You should take care that you question your child in such a way that they can explain their feelings without holding anything back. Even if they don’t, be patient. Let them talk in a way that doesn’t make them feel that something is wrong with them. Rather, show them that you are more than interested and invested in getting to the root of the issues they are experiencing. Remember, it should always be a two-way street. Having a confronting attitude will not help you.
Also, some risk factors make youngsters and children more prone to such issues compared to other children. Here are some of the risk factors:
- A long-term illness
- Experiencing the death of someone close to them
- Divorced or separated parents
- Severe bullying or physical and sexual abuse
- Poverty, homelessness
- A parent with mental health problems or with substance or alcohol abuse
- Experiencing discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, or color
- Having too many responsibilities
- Education difficulties
Common Mental Health Issues in ChildrenHere are some of the issues youngsters can suffer from when they are going through mental health issues:
- Depression. The last few years have seen an increase in depression among children. Compared to young children, teens are more likely to suffer from depression.
- Compared to young
boys, eating disorders are more common in young girls in their
teens. Although the number is small but is increasing since social media
emerged and more people have become obsessed with unnatural body standards.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most common ones and can have
serious repercussions on the physical and mental health of a child.
- Also, the generation today
is anxious. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) makes people
feel become extremely worried and anxious. Even things such as moving or
starting high school/college lead them to feel separation anxiety.
- Sadly, a large number of
children face abuse that can be of mental, physical, or sexual nature. Many
adults with issues today suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD) in their childhood. Children tend to suffer when they witness
- A common problem among
youngsters is self-harm. To some, self-harm helps them in
dealing with intense emotions. Teens harm themselves through burning or
- Hyperactive children who are always active and have a hard time paying attention could have ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Usually, more boys have affected by it than girls.
Seek professional help
If your child is having trouble at school, then a teacher, school nurse, counselor, or psychologist could be of great assistance. You can always look for professional help if you are unable to find the root of the problem and help your child. A health visitor could help in referring your child to a therapist. You would find professionals in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
NHS offers free support to troubled teens as well as your kid’s school.
Talking it out
Good that you talk to your child. Child mental issue treatment procedures focus a lot on talking and understanding the underlying problem and find the best way to tackle it. The treatments and actions that most professionals recommend are not difficult, and often require the involvement of the entire family.
It is also possible that a specialist is recommended for your troubled child who would help your child explore their emotions and behavior. This called counseling or talking therapy.
Most of the studies and research that took place on mental health medications focused on adults. Before prescribing any kind of drug, the child should seek professional help from a specialist. A specialist should assess them first. In most of these cases, evidence suggests that talking therapies have brought amazing results in helping young people. But in some cases, prescription drugs are a must to help alleviate the problem.
Some additional tips
Sometimes, you can control the situation from worsening in the initial stages. Make some lifestyle changes such as diet, focus more on spending quality family time. Spend time away from social media could be of great help too. Sure, medications and talking sessions can help them but these are equally important.
Most of the children today grow up mentally healthy. But a survey found out that the kids today have more mental health issues than 30 years ago. This is because of the changes in living styles and how it impacts the growth of a child.
Having a healthy mind and maintaining a positive outlook could prove to be a strong coping mechanism to deal with negativity in life. More than half of the Americans could be diagnosed with a mental disorder in their life, but when you talk to your child about mental health before a problem arises, it could set them up for a healthy and productive future.
Parents should pay attention to their child’s mental well-being. It is as important as their physical health. When children have healthy minds and good mental health, it lets children and young people develop the strength and skill to deal with anything difficult they might come across letting them grow into healthy and sensible adults.
Here are some ways to keep your kids mentally well:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Having regular exercise
- Physical activities (indoors and outdoors)
- A good school where the school takes care of the students
- Having a close-knit family that gets along with each other
You should also pay attention to some other things. Apart from giving your child a healthy environment to live in, you have to take care of some other things. Your child should feel loved, trusted, and understood. A majority of psychological issues arise in children when they feel that no one loves or understands them. And as they grow up, this feeling grows stronger and gradually turns into resentment.
Last but not the least, parents are the biggest support system for a child. You are the first person they see and for most, parents are a child’s first role model. So, give them the attention and validation that they seek from you by accepting them with their skills and faults. A child should always feel that he belongs.