By Melissa Rivera
The mental health of children and adolescents cannot be ignored. They might face challenges like not having the opportunity to seek treatment or their change of emotions and attitude may go unnoticed. Oftentimes the troubled behavior of some children may be seen as a “phase” that may soon pass without truly understanding that they may be showing symptoms of poor mental health. Another issue that arises is that most children might not understand how to express their emotions and may not know how to put what they feel in words.
Another obstacle that comes into play with teens and mental health is the stigma surrounding it. Mental illness is still considered a taboo, which makes them afraid of speaking up and seeking help. Parents and teachers play an important role in showing support and understanding, by educating themselves and providing resources available to the kids. Research shows that up to 70% of teens do not get the assistance needed because of the lack of awareness and fear of rejection.
According to the National’s Children Bureau, 17.1 million children have an identifiable psychiatric disorder. This number shows that there are a significant number of children suffering from mental health issues. Some of the most common suffering issues among youth today are anxiety disorders, disruptive and ADHD disorders, depression, bipolar disorders and eating disorders. Statistics also show that one in five teens are going through day to day life with a mental health problem.
It’s important to recognize that children begin to suffer mental health issues at a young age so that teachers, school staff, and guardians can learn to recognize symptoms. Anxiety can be present in children as young as six years old.
Mental Wellness among Youth
- We need to realize that mental wellness is just as essential to the growth of young children and those that are healthier all around prosper in all aspects of life. Kids who are mentally healthy will be able to excel and do better in school. If a child is unable to concentrate in school, their academic performance can ultimately suffer. That is why we need to openly address the importance of teen mental health. A sad reality is that there is increasing in suicide cases in children and adolescents; today, suicide is one of the top three causes of death among youth. As a community, we must also help teens become more comfortable to reach out for help and receive necessary treatment.
Although it can be hard to recognize when the child is struggling, here we will discuss what some of the symptoms of those suffering mental health problems may look like. Some clues to pay attention to:
Begin to distant themselves from peers/classmates
Purposely avoid school
Show intense or persistent sadness
Have a change in eating patterns
May talk about committing harmful actions to themselves such as suicide.
You may also be able to recognize changes in their sleep, attitude, weight and concentration. These are key factors for parents and educators to pay attention to so children can receive timely intervention.
An approach that has worked in the past is to engage the entire community. Teachers could be trained to recognize the symptoms of mental health issues. Teachers are great individuals to train since they spend a lot of time with children in the school setting. It’s also important for the school to provide a supportive environment and for teens to know they can seek help if they need to. There needs to be trust between teens and adults so they feel comfortable and understood to speak up and share their feelings. We also need to make sure children are taught how to navigate through all the changes they are experiencing. Children are growing constantly and it is a reminder for parents to keep a close eye on your child’s well-being physically and mentally.
Here at Norooz Clinic we offer services to adolescents. We have well-trained therapists that are available for in-person appointment as well as telehealth. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, consult your child’s doctor or contact the Norooz team at (949) 244 9720.
Child Mind Institute (2015) Mental Health Disorders Are The Most Common Diseases of Children. Retrieved from https://childmind.org/2015-childrens-mental-health-report/
Mayo Clinic Staff (2020) Mental Illness In Children: Know the Signs. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/mental-illness-in-children/art-20046577
Mental Health First Aid USA (2019) Why Teen Mental Health Needs to be Addressed. Retrieved as https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2019/06/why-teen-mental-health-needs-to-be-addressed/
National Children’s Bureau (2015) What works in promoting social and emotional well-being and responding to mental health problems in schools? Retrieved from https://developyourchild.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2016/03/NCB-well-being-mental-health-report-2015.pdf