A mental health condition affecting a child from one family is a problem for the whole society. Mental health is an integral part of how we perform our responsibilities in our daily life. The presence of good mental health in children and adolescents presents an opportunity for them to thrive and reach full potential in their growth and development.
Statistics from the WHO website reveal that mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10-19. This is a scary revelation that should worry us as a society. It’s a painful reality that the majority of our youthful population are troubled with mental health disorders. Identifying mental illness is usually a challenge for parents resulting in late detection and delayed diagnosis. It is essential to understand how to recognize the warning signs of mental illness in children to get appropriate help.
Some signs that your child may be suffering from mental health disorder include:
• Continuous sadness – for more than two weeks
• Harming oneself or harboring such thoughts
• Contemplating suicide
• Extreme changes in behavior, mood, or personality.
• Loss of weight
• Sleeping difficulties
• Substance abuse
• Concentration troubles
• Reduced academic performances
How should we tackle mental health problems in children?
The first step to solving the problem is identifying the factor of instability. Genes, biology, psychological trauma, and the nature of the environment are the key factors that trigger mental illness in children.
Numerous factors within our environment could lead to mental health disorders in children. Toxic experiences are the leading cause for creating an unstable environment around children. They include bullying, bereavement, family breakdown, and history of abuse. Expert opinion is usually required to determine the cause of mental illness in children accurately.
Types of Mental Health Disorders
There are several types of mental illnesses in children. The most common ones include:
• Anxiety disorders
• Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• Eating disorders
• Autism spectrum disorder(ASD)
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect your kid is suffering from a mental health disorder, a quick visit to a licensed healthcare practitioner should be your next move. Healthcare professionals assist with the diagnosis of mental illnesses through physical examination and conducting extensive medical interviews. Once a mental health disorder is determined, treatment commences. Most potential mental health problems do not cause problems when an early response is applied. Standard treatment options for children with mental health disorders are psychotherapy and administration of medication. The type of treatment option adopted will depend on the mental health disorder affecting a child.
Prevention is the most reliable and effective way of avoiding distress caused by mental illness to children and their families. One prevention measure widely used is the adoption of mental health prevention services offered by different health facilities. These services provide approaches that families can use during each development stage of children. Other preventive measures that can be applied include having a supportive family around children, preventing children from exposure to violence and abuse, encouraging strong peer relationships among children, and developing healthy coping skills for children in any situation.
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The stigma associated with mental illness remains one of the biggest enemies in the fight against mental illness. As a society, we should join hands and provide a safe environment for families fighting mental health problems.