Parents often have a difficult time identifying mental illness in their children. Naturally, parents are biased when it comes to how terrific their kids are, and their feelings and memories can cloud their ability to see what might be clear to a licensed professional counselor or psychiatrist.
What is mental illness?
Mental health disorders in children, adolescents and teens can be generally defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate behaviors, thinking, social skills and emotions. Such problems disrupt their ability to function well at home, in school and other settings or situations, which can be distressing to both the kids and their parents.
Since mental illness can disrupt how a person thinks, feels and behaves, it needs to be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. Kids and teens aren’t always able or willing to explain how they feel or why so parents and guardians need to know the warning signs.
10 warning signs of mental illness for kids and teens
Be vigilant and aware of these potential changes in your child’s behavior:
- Extreme mood swings or temper tantrums
- Persistent sadness, hopelessness and lack of interest
- Suicidal thoughts or actions and/or doing self-harm
- Use of tobacco, drugs and/or alcohol
- Running away from home and/or slipping out at night
- Falling grades and/or skipping school
- Sudden change in friends and/or no interest in friends
- Disobedience, rebellion and secrecy
- Increased or repeated lying
- Laughing at other people’s pain or distress
How did this happen?
Even the best kids from the best homes can have behavioral or mental health issues that need to be addressed with the help of a mental health professional.
Today’s children, adolescents and teens seem to face more relationship, educational and situational pressures than ever before — often from well-meaning parents, schools, teachers, classmates, coaches, teammates and friends. There also are more temptations, more stresses, more bullying, more… everything than previous generations of young people faced. These pressures and stressors — especially in combination with one or more mental health issues, abusive relationships and/or unstable home environments — increase the potential for problems that need to be diagnosed and treated.
Where to seek help
First and foremost, parents and guardians need to remember that there is no stigma in seeking help for a child experiencing mental illness. The licensed professional counselors, therapists and psychiatrists with Willowbrooke Tanner, Willowbrooke Psychiatric Center and Willowbrooke Counseling Center, have the expertise, programs and therapies to help your child move past anxiety, bullying, bipolar disorder, depression PTSD, schizophrenia, trauma and more.
For more information, visit tanner.org/behavioral-health-care or call 770-812-3266.