Is Your Child’s Mental Health on Your Radar?

by | Health, Parent Resources

The Number of Children Diagnosed With Mental Health Issues is Rising – Should You be Concerned?

The issue of children’s mental health has long been a concern for parents all across the country, but only in the latter part of the 20th century did child psychiatry establish itself into a separate eld. These days, children are increasingly being diagnosed with various mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder: as many as 1 in 6 children in Canada suffer from some type of mental health problem. A child with anxiety may avoid going to school, causing them to fall behind or even fail. is will cause an added stress as they become at odds with their parents over performance. A child with some form of depression may lose their lust for life, and their friendships may start to cool as they lose touch with their peers. A child with bipolar or ADHD may nd it dicult to interact and form relationships with their family, teachers and peers.

While the social stigma attached to mental illness is slowly lifting – 79% of parents now recognize that mental illness is a disease, just like epilepsy or diabetes – a substantial 26% still admit that they would not want people to know if their child was diagnosed with a mental illness.

While it presents an added challenge to families, there are many ways that you can ensure things are as easy as they can be for your child should they be diagnosed with any of these, or other, mental health challenges. Experts agree that the single most important thing you can do is keep an open line of communication with your children about it. Children’s inability to explain what they are feeling, along with the fear they may have about speaking up at all, has proved to be one of the greatest challenges facing parents and experts. If you see changes in your child’s behavioural patterns, you should contact your doctor immediately and let your child know that you are there for support. Letting them know that these types of feelings are normal and something that you can deal with together will make it a lot easier on them. Early intervention is also important when it comes to your child’s mental health because if there is an imbalance in your child’s brain, the more time that passes then the more firmly imprinted it will become. The longer one goes without treatment, then the more entrenched the disorder becomes. ere is the risk of both conditions and complications worsening.

The following are some warning signs to look for in your children. These are by no means denite indicators of a mental illness, but are worth keeping an eye on, especially if they are pervasive or extreme in nature.

Preschool age

  • Excessive anxiety about separation. Remember, this is very common in children at first but if this behaviour continues for months then it may be a concern.
  • Bedwetting after potty training is complete.
  • Fatigue, headaches or tummy aches with no explanation.

Elementary School age

  • Issues with not wanting to attend school, a dip in marks, acting disruptive or distracted in class.
  • Fatigue, headaches or tummy aches with no explanation.
  • Sudden and excessive outbursts of anger.
  • Decreased interest in spending time with friends and family.

Junior High age

  • Nervousness, worrying, sadness, lethargy or not wanting to get out of bed.
  • Sudden and excessive outbursts of anger, aggression, frustration or sadness.