As a nation overall, the United States needs to improve how it diagnoses, treats and handles citizens suffering from mental health disorders. One of the areas that receives the least amount of effort and concern is the area of children’s mental health. Too often mental health disorders in children are written off by family doctors and parents as “That’s just Susie being a kid.”, or “That is just how William is.”. Many times, these conditions are diagnosed years later when a serious event occurs.
In an attempt to raise awareness of children’s mental health issues, the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health has designated May 5th – May 11th as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is “Out of the Shadows: Exposing Stigma” and they have several events planned. You can find out more by visiting their website.
So what are the signs that your child could be suffering from a mental health disorder?
- Changes in Behavior – Has your outgoing, rambunctious child suddenly become withdrawn and quiet?
- Dropping Grades in School – Is you’re A/B student now performing at a D/F level?
- Mood Swings – Does your child go from happy to sad within a matter of minutes?
- Unexplained Weight Loss – Has your child had a weight loss of more than 10 lbs. over a month?
- Physical Harm – Has your child starting cutting or mutilating their body or attempted suicide?
If your child is experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, you should talk to your child about their thoughts and feelings. Find out what is causing these changes. It may require you to reach out to the school for any issues occurring there with a teacher or another student. In other cases, you may need to seek out a professional counselor to help your child through this. Either way, get involved in what is going on with your child. This is not the time to put your head in the sand and think that it will just go away.
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