As adults, we all know that mental wellness is as important as physical wellness, and the same is true for children. Ensuring that they have good emotional regulation and access to mental health therapy when needed can make a big impact in the lives of children of all ages, including teens. Children and their families can face difficulties if mental conditions are left untreated, making access to mental health services essential.
Our community relies on healthy, functioning families that can contribute to their schools, neighborhoods and anyone they come in contact with. Davis Behavioral Health offers a range of mental health services for children and adults to help your family be its best. Wondering if your child may need help and what you should do about it? Read on to find out why it is so important to reach out and give your child the tools he or she needs to thrive.
How Do You Know if Your Child Needs Mental Health?
Unfortunately, mental illness in children can be difficult for parents to identify. The stereotypical symptoms that most adults relate to a mental health condition may not be as obvious in a small child or even a teen, making it hard to determine when help is really needed. It is important for all parents, even those who are not concerned about their own children’s mental well-being, to know and recognize the signs so that they can provide help as early as possible.
While every child is different, and every child will have different life experiences, there are a few signs of mental illness. If you notice any of these in your child, reach out to his or her pediatrician or contact a mental health professional.
Extreme Feelings of Sadness or Worry Lasting 2 Weeks or More
If your child suddenly shows signs of anxiety, worry or sadness for an extended period of time, it could be a sign of something more than the blues. It is especially concerning if this deep sadness impacts your child’s ability to participate in his or her normal, everyday activities.
Changes in Eating or Sleeping Patterns
A child who has a change in his or her sleeping habits, such as sleeping too much or having a hard time falling asleep, may be signaling depression or anxiety. The same goes for changes to eating. If your child won’t eat or is eating more than he or she usually does, talk to someone.
A normally social child who becomes withdrawn and avoids spending time with peers could be exhibiting signs of a mental illness. It is normal for kids to go through phases of not wanting to spend time with certain friends, but when it is prolonged or out of the ordinary, it could be problematic.
Children who are struggling with mental health may become disruptive at school or in other social situations. Talking back, fighting or acting out can be ways for kids to express hard emotions that they are experiencing. If a concerned teacher reaches out to you, he or she likely wants to help your child as much as you do.
It is normal for children to have occasional physical aches and pains, but some mental health issues can show up with physical symptoms, including headaches and stomachaches. Once you’ve ruled out a physical illness, a mental health professional can help.
Talking About Death or Suicide
Any time a child repeatedly talks about death, suicide or harming themselves or others, it is a cause for concern. You know your child best. If he or she is focusing on these topics frequently, it is important to reach out for help quickly.
What Do You Do When Your Child Needs Mental Health Services?
If you are at any point concerned about your child’s mental health, do not hesitate to speak up. Your first step may be to schedule an appointment with your child’s medical provider. Your pediatrician can complete a medical exam as well as review the signs and symptoms you are seeing to help you determine your next step. Often, if a mental illness is suspected, your child’s doctor will refer you to a mental health provider, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist.
It is also a good idea to speak to the other trusted adults in your child’s life. Reach out to his or her teacher to see if he or she has also noticed any troubling signs at school. Most children spend a good portion of their day attending school, so there may be behaviors happening there that you don’t even know about. Teachers want their students to succeed, so they can help you find resources that may be available through your child’s school or district.
Other people you should talk to include your child’s friends, friends’ parents, relatives who spend regular time with your child and any caregivers so that you can find out if they’ve noticed similar changes in your child’s behavior. Anything that you are told by these people can and should be shared with your child’s medical provider when you report signs or symptoms you are seeing, even if you didn’t see them firsthand.
There are many specialists that work closely with children experiencing mental health conditions. You may feel alone and out of your element, but remember that these professionals want to help your child as much as you do.
Why Are Mental Health Services Important for Children?
Good mental health is important during all phases of life, from childhood to old age. Getting treatment for a mental health condition early is often the greatest factor for success. Unfortunately, many mental illnesses don’t go away completely with treatment but require a lifetime of support and help to manage symptoms. However, chronic mental illness doesn’t have to lead to a lifetime of difficulties. Early intervention can give children the ability to cope with their conditions and live normal, healthy lives.
Poor mental health in children can lead to issues with their development, as well as school and social problems. These issues can continue on into adulthood, making it a challenge to function in society. Giving your child access to mental health treatment can ensure that he or she has the tools to develop good social skills, perform well in school and contribute positively to your family.
Remember, the mental health of all children impacts our community as a whole. We should all aim for resilient children who are not defined by their struggles but who contribute to a functioning community. We are at our best when we help those in need, especially children and those who may need our assistance getting them the help that they need.
Reach Out to Davis Behavioral Health
If your child is showing signs of mental illness, do not hesitate to contact Davis Behavioral Health. We can connect you with a mental health provider who is trained to provide services specifically for children. We also offer numerous classes and programs for families and children to provide education and support for those dealing with mental health concerns. Ignoring concerns regarding a child’s mental health can be detrimental for years to come, but we know that parents want to do what is best for their children, and that includes getting them help for mental health when it is needed.