Help Available for Children with Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues in children are on the increase. Every year, more than 17 million are diagnosed with one mental health condition or another. While it is easy to blame the pressures of modern society with this rise, it is also partially due to better understanding and diagnosis in an area of health care that has not always been given the attention it needs.

The truth is that in years gone by, treatable mental health conditions have been either misdiagnosed or ignored entirely. This was true for sufferers of all ages but was, even more, the case in children and adolescents, where it was too easy to turn a blind eye. That meant that conditions that could have been treated and helped were dismissed as symptoms of children being badly behaved, lacking intelligence or that classic catchall “just being kids.”

Modern attitudes are changing, and while there is still a degree of stigma to facing up to a mental health problem, we now have a far better idea of the causes, symptoms, and treatments to help children with mental health disorders. Having said that, it is true that “kids are kids” and not every display of moody or disruptive behavior is symptomatic of a medical condition; that makes diagnosis in children particularly challenging.

Help Available Children Mental Health

Identifying mental health disorders

With any medical disorder, doctors and health care experts use a variety of tools to make a diagnosis, and in mental health, it is no different. In the first instance, they will examine symptoms, perform some tests and from there make a diagnosis.

However, when it comes to mental health, the signs are not always as easy to read. If you have chest pains, breathlessness, and an irregular heartbeat, the diagnosis is quite clear. But the symptoms of mental disorders are often less clear, particularly in children. The task of the healthcare professional is to identify when such symptoms as anxiety, attention deficit, mood swings or unusual eating habits are pointing to a genuine and treatable medical condition.

What can parents do?

The role of parents in both the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders should not be underestimated. After all, if one of the biggest challenges is understanding whether a behavior is “normal,” nobody is in a better position to judge than Mom and Dad. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, here are some signs that you should watch out for:

  • Suddenly becoming withdrawn, and symptoms persisting beyond a week or so.
  • Anxiety and fear with no obvious cause – often accompanied by sweating and a racing heart.
  • Sudden and unaccountable mood swings.
  • Disruptive behavior at home or school – such as getting into fights and arguments.
  • Self-harm.
  • Irrational, unusual or out of control behavior.
  • Unusual eating habits, for example, refusing food or overeating.

Of course these are just examples – as a parent, you will know if something is wrong, so the best advice you can take is to trust your instincts.

Professional help

After vigilance, the next thing that parents can do is to get professional assistance. If you had reason to think your child had a physical illness or condition, you would not hesitate to seek medical advice. It is essential to take the same approach with mental health because if untreated these problems can have consequences that last a lifetime.

One of the benefits that come from the increased profile that mental issues have in the modern age is that help is far easier to find. There are a number of specialist centers that offer advice, support and treatment, and in the modern age, it does not have to entail a long waiting list. In fact, you can take the first steps to getting the help you need from the comfort of your living room, thanks to the wonders of social media. Just look at mental healthcare expert Newport Academy’s Twitter feed as a case in point.

Eyes wide open

Mental health issues are on the increase, but only because we are getting better at diagnosing them. Contrary to what some people think, there has never been a better time to be a parent, as a broader range of problems can be fully understood, diagnosed and treated, instead of being swept under the carpet.

As parents, we take responsibility for making sure all our child’s health care needs are met. It falls to us all to remain vigilant, and ensure that includes mental as well as physical health.

Melanie Kampman

Melanie Kampman is a web designer, developer and owner of Giveaway Bandit and Farm News for Kids. She lives in Northwest Missouri on a large family farm with her husband and eight year old son, the Giveaway Bandit. They raise cattle with a variety of pets including horses, chickens, ducks, and a slew of cats. By Melanie Kampman If you are interested in writing a sponsored post on Giveaway Bandit please email me at melanie (at) giveawaybandit (dot) com.

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