mental health

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.
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