Children and adolescents with mental health issues need to be helped as soon as possible. A variety of signs may point to mental health disorders or serious emotional disturbances in children or adolescents. Some warnings signs are:
A child or adolescent is troubled by feeling:
- Sad and hopeless for no reason, and these feelings do not go away.
- Very angry most of the time, crying a lot and overreacting to things.
- Worthless or feeling guilty often.
- Anxious or worried often.
- Unable to get over a loss or death of someone important.
- Extremely fearful or having unexplained fears.
- Constantly concerned about physical problems or physical appearance.
- Frightened that his or her mind is either being controlled or is out of control
A child or adolescent experiences big changes, such as:
- Showing declining performance in school.
- Losing interest in things once enjoyed.
- Experiencing unexplained changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
- Avoiding friends or family and wanting to be alone all the time.
- Daydreaming too much and not completing tasks.
- Feeling life is too hard to handle.
- Hearing voices that cannot be explained.
- Experiencing suicidal thoughts.
A child or adolescent experiences:
- Poor concentration and is unable to think straight or make up his or her mind.
- An inability to sit still or focus attention.
- Worry about being harmed, hurting others, or doing something “bad”.
- A need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines many times a day, in order to avoid an unsubstantiated danger.
- Racing thoughts that are almost too fast to follow.
- Persistent nightmares.
A child or adolescent behaves in dangerous ways that cause problems, such as:
- Using alcohol or other drugs.
- Eating large amounts of food and then purging, or abusing laxatives, to avoid weight gain.
- Dieting and/or exercising obsessively.
- Violating the rights of others or constantly breaking the law without regard for other people.
- Setting fires.
- Doing things that can be life threatening.
- Hurting or killing animals.
Important Messages about Child and Adolescent Mental Health:
- Every child’s mental health is important.
- Many children have mental health problems.
- These problems are real, painful, and can be severe.
- Children with mental disorders, particularly depression, are at a higher risk for suicide. An estimated 90 percent of children who commit suicide have a mental disorder.
- Mental health problems can be recognized and treated.
- Caring families, professionals and communities working together can help.