Things all Parents, Teachers and Carers Should Know About Mental Health Issues in Children
If you are a parent, teacher or care for children, it is essential that you understand and how to recognise and deal with children’s mental health issues. Here are just some of the things you should be aware of.
Whilst thought to be very uncommon, mental health affects 10-20% of children before they become an adult. It is essential that parents and teachers understand that out of character behaviour could be signs of a more serious underlying issue.
There are certain factors that make children more at risk of developing a mental health issue early in their lives. Children with physical illness or disability are much more likely to develop a mental health issue. Also, children with difficult relationships such as victims or witnesses of domestic abuse, bullying or trauma are highly susceptible to developing mental health concerns. If a child facing any of these circumstances is showing signs of a mental health issue, it should be taken seriously.
There are many signs which may mean a child is suffering with mental health difficulties, including:
– Changes to their sleeping pattern, over sleeping or trouble sleeping
– Withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed
– Engaging in difficult behaviour such as tantrums or running away
– Becoming overly focussed on a certain task or routine
These are just some of the signs that your child might be suffering from a mental health issue, it is always prudent to seek the advice of a professional if you have concerns.
What should you do if a child is exhibiting these behaviours? There are a number of proven strategies for dealing with issues. Spending at least 15 minutes per day of one-to-one time, without distraction, can help build a positive relationship and may encourage your child to open up about their difficulties, and feel supported. Similarly, understanding your child’s specific needs and being supportive of their circumstances can also improve the situation.
If their behaviour does not improve, it is time to seek professional help. Children’s mental health issues are usually treated with a combination of therapy and medication, and your medical advisor will be able to set out the options for you clearly and concisely to help you make the right choice.
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