The Importance of knowing about your child’s mental health

It is very common for children to develop a mental health condition just like an adult. The statistics show 1 in 5 children have a mental health condition but up to two-thirds of them are not getting the help they need. Why aren’t we getting out kids help? Their emotional well-being is just as important as their physical. As a parent of 2 boys, one who is in school and does have a mental health condition. I’ll be the first to notice when he’s had a bad day or when he is emotionally struggling. When do you know that it’s time to seek professional help for your child? There are many symptoms and warning signs such as:
For young children (ages 4-11)
  • Frequent temper tantrums, very irritable most of the time.
  • Frequently talks about fears or worries
  • Complains of headaches and stomachs with no medical issues
  • Won’t sit quietly unless is in front of a screen
  • Sleep disturbances, including nightmares
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Decline in grades
  • Fear of something bad happening.
For Adolescents and Teens (ages 12-19)
  • Low energy
  • Sleep disturbances such as sleeping too much or going days without sleeping
  • Lost interest in things that they used to have interest in
  • Spending more time alone and avoiding social activities
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Self-harm such as cutting
  • Smoking, drinking or doing drugs
  • Risky or destructive behavior, may be doing this alone or with friends
  • Suicidal thoughts
Leaving our children untreated not only will their symptoms get worse. There are risk factors also such as failing at school, may even end up with getting in trouble with the law starting at a young age. If you notice at home reach out to those your child also spends time with such as teachers, daycare providers, and family members. They may also see something you might not see.
There is a stigma when it comes to mental health especially with children like we failed as parents but that is in no way true. They also have the same chemical imbalance as an adult with a mental health condition. There should be no shame in seeking professional help for a child or even an adult. This stigma needs to end.
There is many different mental health conditions that are common with children and teens. Some off the following are ones sons suffer from.
  1. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
  2. Difficulty paying attention
  3. Easily distracted
  4. Gets bored easily
  5. May have difficulty remembering things or following instructions. Won’t pay attention to detail and will make careless mistakes.
  6. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A serious developmental disorder usually diagnosed before or around 3 years of age. Will affect the ability to communicate and interact with others. The severity will vary.
  7. Mood Disorders
  8. Depression
  9. Bipolar Disorder
  10. Persistent sadness or extreme mood swings. Periods of hyperactivity followed by periods of lethargy, intense frustration.
  11. Conduct Disorder: A serious behavioral and emotional disorder.
  12. Aggressive behavior-fighting, bullying, being cruel to animals and to others.
  13. Destructive behavior- destroying property (arson), and vandalism
  14. Deceitful behavior- going against the rules of society and engaging in behaviors not age appropriate. Running away, or skipping school.
  15. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD): Not diagnosable to children under 6 years old or over 18 years old. To be diagnosed the child must have the symptoms for at least 1 year. Symptoms typically begin before the age of 10 and include:
  16. Irritable and angry most of the day, all day long
  17. Severe frequent outbursts (3 or more times a day)
  18. Trouble functioning due to irritability
  19. Asperger’s Syndrome- A development disorder that is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Symptoms include not picking up on social cues and not being able to read others’ body languages. They may struggle to start or maintain conversations; they may lack empathy and like a steady schedule with minimal changes.
  20. Anxiety Disorders-
  21. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  22. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  23. Social Phobia
  24. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  25. Eating Disorders-
  26. Anorexia Nervosa
  27. Bulimia Nervosa
  28. Binge Eating Disorder
  29. These are serious life threatening conditions. Children become so focused on their weight and food.
Mental Health in children has been a struggle for my son for a while now. His behavior has become more aggressive and he was having a lot of temper tantrums along with his hyperactivity. His dad was the first one to mention it to me and I thought Brayden was being a boy. Once he mentioned it, that opened my eyes to what I didn’t want to see. Let’s be honest we never want to see our child hurting and struggling but the most important thing was to get him the help he needed.
Now that he is on his daily medicines and he is seeing a counselor I can see a difference in him. We still have a long way to go and will need to adjust his medications and possibly try new ones but I am optimistic we will get where we need to be.
This is a somewhat new topic and situation for me because growing up this was something we never discussed. It was like you didn’t want people to think you had an issue so you didn’t talk about your problems. There are so many treatment options and honestly if you want to keep it a private matter, keep it private. Some treatment options include:
  1. Psychotherapy or talk therapy
  2. Parent involvement
  3. Teaching skills and practicing skills
  4. Measures for progress
  5. Medications
  6. Family Counseling
  7. Support for Parents
Depending on the child’s mental health condition it may be necessary to involve others especially when the child’s ready to start school. We want our kids to have the best chance to succeed so we will involve who is necessary to increase those chances.
As a child who is living their life then all of a sudden they are having to go to doctors and take medication and they are confused by what is going on themselves. Why they aren’t like the other kids, why they feel angry all the time, I could imagine they have so many questions. As parents it is our job to comfort our kids. It is also our job to help them cope with this new reality. We know in the end they will begin to feel better but it can take some time for that to happen. We can help them by doing some very simple things such as:
  1. Listening, talking, and discussing with them. Whether it is about their day, maybe about a book they were reading or anything they wanted to talk about.
  2. Practice and teach mindfulness.
  3. Try to say yes whenever possible, as long as they aren’t going to hurt themselves or anyone else.
  4. Encourage their interests.
  5. Listen actively
If we don’t speak up for the kids, how can we expect kids to speak up for themselves? #speakupforkids
When “I” is replaced by “we” even illness becomes wellness
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to this picture. I am not a medical professional, if you are having a medical emergency please contact 911 immediately. This post is for informational purposes only. If you believe you have a medical issue contact your local medical provider.