How to Recognize the Signs of Mental Illness in Children

It’s a fact that children will sometimes break the rules, throw a tantrum when they don’t get their way, keep secrets from their parents, and test boundaries as they try to be independent. However, some children demonstrate behaviors that go beyond the normal “growing pains”.

According to the Association for Children’s Mental Health (ACMH), 1 in 5 children and youth in the United States have some type of emotional, behavioral, or mental health disorder. In addition, 1 in 10 adolescents have a mental health problem that is serious enough to hinder their ability to function at school and home.

That’s why it’s so critical for parents, teachers, family members, and friends to learn how to “read between the lines” when a child is behaving differently than usual.

The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) recognizes that children’s mental health is a real problem in our communities. CFMC has identified real solutions such as funding additional social workers from Youth First for our schools.

Although it’s not always easy to identify the signs of mental illness, here are some behaviors that parents, teachers and others can look for when they suspect a child is struggling:

·         Intense demonstration of emotions such as overwhelming fear, extreme anxiety, or angry outbursts.

·         Changes in mood like feelings of sadness, mood swings, or withdrawal.

·         Behavioral changes such as frequent fighting, using weapons, or being out of control.

·         Using or abusing drugs or alcohol.

·         Inflicting harm upon themselves (self-harm) or suicidal attempts.

·         Unable to concentrate and poor performance in school.

·         Losing interest in extracurricular activities or making excuses not to go to school.

Children struggling with mental health problems lack the coping skills to handle difficult situations, both at home and school. That’s why it’s imperative for more adults to learn the signs of mental illness, discuss concerns as a group (i.e. parents, teachers, doctors), and create a plan of treatment.

Students struggling with mental health issues need your help to give them every opportunity to be successful in school and life. Be a part of the real solution by making a donation at Help us make sure every school has at least one mental health professional on-site every day.