1 in 5 kids may suffer from a mental disorder: Know these warning signs of mental illness in children


New Delhi: Mental illness can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, background, etc. This means mental teens and children can experience a range of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders, suicide, etc. In fact, a new study conducted in Canada found that one in five children and youth in Ontario suffers from a mental disorder. However, less than one-third were found to have had contact with a mental health care provider, said the study.

The findings of the latest Ontario Child Health Study (OCHS) also suggested that hyperactivity disorder in boys ages 4 to 11 jumped dramatically from 9 per cent in the 1983 to 16 per cent in the 2014. The large-scale study also found that there was a steep increase in anxiety and depression among both males and females, from 9 to 13 per cent. However, the researchers observed a substantial drop in disruptive behaviour among males ages 12 to 16, from 10 to 3 per cent. The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, also found that more than 8 per cent of youth thought about suicide, and 4 per cent reported a suicide attempt in the past year.

Mental health problems are now surprisingly common in kids nowadays, affecting their learning, behaviour emotions to a large extent. In fact, it has been found that children and teens may be at higher risk for mental health difficulties, in certain ways, and may also face additional barriers to getting help. Perhaps, it can be hard for parents to identify mental illness in children. Many kids who could benefit from treatment fail to receive the help they need. Hence, it’s important for parents to understand the warning signs of mental problems in children and how they can help their child.

Signs and symptoms of mental illness in children

Children with mental illness may develop the classic symptoms of a particular condition, however, below are some common signs that indicate your child may have a mental health disorder:

  1. Mood changes or severe mood swings- such as feelings of sadness or withdrawal that lasts at lease two weeks
  2. Experiencing overwhelming fear
  3. Risky behavior – such as showing less concern for their own safety or expressing a desire to hurt others.
  4. Difficulty concentrating or poor school performance
  5. Unexplained weight loss
  6. Physical symptoms – such as headaches and stomach aches rather than anxiety or sadness

If your child is showing any of these changes, especially if it’s impacting their daily life, you must consult your child’s doctor or a mental health provider, who can help determine what might work best for your child. With appropriate treatment and support, you can help your child thrive, both physically and emotionally.

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