According to estimates, one in four of us experience mental health problems each year. Sometimes these can be mild, but in 2 per cent of cases these issues seriously impact people’s lives and make it hard for them to cope.
Problems like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder aren’t just found in adults. Children and teenagers can suffer from these issues too, and it’s important to know the signs.
It can be difficult to realise if your children and teenagers are experiencing mental health issues. Many people aren’t aware of all of the signs and symptoms, and even if you do know what to look out for it can be hard to differentiate between serious issues and normal behaviour patterns.
You should khow that Having a healthy mind is just as important as having a healthy body, so if you’re worried that there might be something wrong with your child’s mental health it’s important to see a doctor right away.
Although everyone is different and may not display all of these symptoms, some signs you should look out for include:
Failing at school: If you start to notice poor marks, where previously your child was doing well, sit down and chat to them about it. It may be something as innocent as finding the coursework more difficult or having a bad teacher, but it could be a sign that they’re depressed and losing motivation.
Moodiness: Although children can be prone to changes in temperament (especially teens), keep an eye out for really big changes. If your child is sad or withdrawn for two weeks or more, or if they’re having severe mood swings that are upsetting friends and family, it may be time to ask for help.
Panicking: One of the biggest signs of an anxiety disorder is if your child starts to feel intense fear for no reason. Start worrying when it interferes with daily life like going to school, playing with friends, or taking part in extracurricular activities.
Weight loss: Remember that boys are prone to eating disorders too. If you think your child is losing weight too fast, keep an eye on them. It could be a growth spurt, but if they aren’t finishing their dinner, or if they’re being sick a lot, it could be a sign of something more.
Angry outbursts: Most teenagers go through the “I hate you!” phase, but if the angry outbursts are extremely intense and involve real threats of violence there could be something deeper at play than hormones.
Changes in sleeping patterns: Again, most teenagers enjoy lounging around in bed until late on the weekends. If you start to notice that they’re spending even more time in bed, and are starting to withdraw from their social circle, this is a warning signal.
If any of these signs persists for more than a few weeks, it’s important to consult with a mental health professional.