Often people can assume that only adults can suffer from mental health problems like depression or anxiety. What does a child have to be worried and depressed about, right? Wrong!! Children are more commonly than ever dealing with issues with their mental health!
Children can experience a range of mental health conditions, including:
Children who have anxiety disorders – such as obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder – experience anxiety as a persistent problem that interferes with their daily activities.
Some worry is a normal part of every child’s experience, often changing from one developmental stage to the next. However, when worry or stress make it hard for a child to function normally, an anxiety disorder should be considered.
Eating disorders – such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder – are serious, even life-threatening, conditions. Children can become so preoccupied with food and weight that they focus on little else.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
This condition typically includes symptoms in three categories: difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Some children with ADHD have symptoms in all of these categories, while others may have symptoms in only one.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Autism spectrum disorder is a serious developmental disorder that appears in early childhood — usually before age 3. Though symptoms and severity vary, ASD always affects a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others.
Mood disorders – such as depression and bipolar disorder – can cause a child to feel persistent feelings of sadness or extreme mood swings much more severe than the normal mood swings common in many people.
Any parent or person who works closely with children need to be aware that children can, sadly, suffer from mental health issues much in the same way an adult can. If you fall into this category, it is important to know what warning signs may flag up should a child be struggling.
There are many indicators, including things like drastic mood changes, weight gain/loss, behavioural changes for no reason, etc. The sooner that a mental health disorder is diagnosed, the sooner the child will be able to get the help that they need.
Check out this infographic:
Shockingly, cases of mental illness in children are far more common than you might think. In fact, 1 in 10 children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 are currently suffering from a diagnosable mental health disorder. More often than not, these symptoms it can be mistaken for simple naughtiness. When you’re taking care of a child or you foster a child, it can be even more difficult to know whether they are just being a ‘teenager’ or actually suffering.
The most important thing that you can do for a child is to speak to them ask them about their feelings and behaviour. A problem shared is often a problem halved, after all.