What Do We Need to Know About Children's Mental Health
- 06 Feb 2023
- Sublime Nursing
Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities.
Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day. Many children occasionally experience fears and worries or display disruptive behaviours. If symptoms are serious and persistent and interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with a mental disorder.
What are the common symptoms of childhood mental disorders?
The symptoms of childhood mental disorders can vary depending on the specific disorder. Some common symptoms include:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Inattention, impulsiveness, hyperactivity.
- Anxiety Disorders: Excessive worry, fear, or avoidance of specific situations
- Depression: Sadness, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Difficulty with social interactions and communication, repetitive behaviours, and routine.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): Defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviour towards authority figures
- Conduct Disorder (CD): Aggressive, destructive, and harmful behaviour towards others and property.
It's important to note that these symptoms may not be specific to mental disorders and can also be associated with other physical or developmental conditions. A professional evaluation is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
The Impact of Mental Disorder on Children
Mental disorders in children can have a significant impact on their lives, affecting their physical, emotional, and social development. Some of the impacts of childhood mental disorders include:
- Academic difficulties: Children with mental health conditions may struggle to focus in school and perform to their potential, leading to lower grades and decreased school engagement.
- Social difficulties: Children with mental health conditions may have difficulty making and maintaining relationships with peers and adults, leading to isolation and loneliness.
- Emotional distress: Children with mental health conditions may experience emotional distress, including feelings of sadness, fear, and irritability.
- Physical health problems: Children with mental health conditions may engage in harmful behaviours, such as substance abuse, that can have negative impacts on their physical health.
- Increased risk of future mental health problems: Children with untreated mental health conditions are at an increased risk of developing more severe mental health problems later in life.
It's important to seek professional help as early as possible to help manage the symptoms and impact of childhood mental disorders. With appropriate treatment, many children with mental health conditions can lead healthy, productive lives.
What We Can Do
Parents: You know your child best. Talk to your child’s healthcare professional if you have concerns about the way your child behaves at home, in school, or with friends.
Youth: It is just as important to take care of your mental health as it is to take care of your physical health. If you are angry, worried, or sad, don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings and reach out to a trusted friend or adult.
Healthcare professionals: Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment based on updated guidelines are very important. There are resources available to help diagnose and treat children’s mental disorders.
Teachers/school counsellors: Early identification is important so that children can get the help they need. Work with families and healthcare professionals if you have concerns about the mental health of a child in your school.