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Mental Health in Children

Mental health can include our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health can affect how we think, feel, and act but it also affects how we handle stress, related to others, and how we make choice. Mental health spans across our lifetime; from childhood to adolescence and through adulthood. As we know, mental health can be influenced by a number of factors that can include biological factors, life experiences, family history and so much more. But how does mental health present in children? 10% of children, ages 5 to 16, experience a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, but 70% of those children who do experience a mental health problem do not receive intervention at a sufficiently early age. Mental health problems can present differently in every person, so how can we know what is a mental health problem versus a part of growing up? Some ways that you can recognize mental health issues in children are: 

  • Persistent sadness — two or more weeks

  • Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions

  • Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself

  • Talking about death or suicide

  • Outbursts or extreme irritability

  • Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful

  • Drastic changes in mood, behavior, or personality

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Loss of weight

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Changes in academic performance

  • Avoiding or missing school

Experiencing mental health problems can be difficult for a child to comprehend and it can often spill over into affecting more areas of their lives, and subsequently yours too! But recognizing the presenting signs and helping your child understand as well as helping them get appropriate intervention can help both you and your child combat the issue head on. Find additional resources below including a resource from the National Alliance for Mental Health!


Mayo Clinic. (2020). Mental illness in children: Know the signs.

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