Children’s Mental Health Matters

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Mental Health Disorders in Children and Youth

Mental health in childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones, and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. The good news is that early diagnosis and treatment lead to better outcomes for children later in life.

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 behaviors.

If symptoms are serious and persistent and interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with a mental disorder. Some of the more common mental health disorders affecting children and youth are listed below:

Click HERE to learn more about the following disorders: 

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Behaviour Disorders (including Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder (CD))
  • Mood Disorders (including Depression, Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression))
  • Eating Disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance Abuse
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Identifying the Signs

Recognizing Symptoms is Key!

Family awareness and early identification are often the first steps to effective treatment for children and youth with mental health disorders.

It’s easy to recognize when a child has a fever. But a child’s mental health is different. It can be difficult to distinguish between ‘normal’ problems that all children and adolescents experience from time to time, and behavior that may be indicative of a mental health disorder.

The following characteristics and behaviors may be signs of an underlying mental health disorder:

  • getting significantly lower marks in school
  • avoiding friends and family
  • having frequent outbursts of anger and rage
  • losing his or her appetite
  • having difficulty sleeping
  • rebelling against authority
  • drinking a lot and/or using drugs
  • not doing the things he or she used to enjoy
  • worrying constantly
  • experiencing frequent mood swings
  • not concerned with his or her appearance
  • obsessed with his or her weight
  • lacking energy or motivation
  • hitting or bullying other children
  • attempting to injure him or her self

Children and youth with the most serious mental health disorders (e.g., severe psychosis or schizophrenia) may exhibit:

  • distorted thinking
  • excessive anxiety
  • odd body movements
  • abnormal mood swings
  • acting overly suspicious of others
  • seeing or hearing things that others don’t see or hear

Helping Children Cope Dueing Covid19

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Get immediate help in a crisis

Disaster Distress Helpline: Call or text 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish

Recommended!

Learn more about child and youth mental health disorders and their signs.

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