Childhood mental health Expert in Perumbakkam

Your Trusted Partner in Childhood mental health

Mental health in childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones, and learning healthy social skills. We are here to provide you with top-notch care and guidance to tackle your problems.

Understanding Childhood mental health

Mental Health in Childhood

Raising a child can be challenging. Even under the best circumstances, their behaviors and emotions can change frequently and rapidly. All children are sad, anxious, irritable, or aggressive at times, or they occasionally find it challenging to sit still, pay attention, or interact with others. In most cases, these are just typical developmental phases. However, such behaviors may indicate a more serious problem in some children.

Mental disorders can begin in childhood. Examples include anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, depression and other mood disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Without treatment, these mental health conditions can prevent children from reaching their full potential. Many adults who seek mental health treatment reflect on the impact of mental disorders on their childhood and wish they had received help sooner.

What are the warning signs of mental illness in children?

Warning signs that your child may have a mental health disorder include:

  • Persistent sadness that lasts two weeks or more
  • 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

How do health care professionals diagnose mental illness in children?

Mental health conditions in children are diagnosed and treated based on signs and symptoms and how the condition affects a child’s daily life. To make a diagnosis, your child’s health care provider might recommend that your child be evaluated by a specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse or other mental health care professional. The evaluation might include:

  • Complete medical exam
  • Medical history
  • History of physical or emotional trauma
  • Family history of physical and mental health
  • Review of symptoms and general concerns with parents
  • Timeline of child’s developmental progress
  • Academic history
  • Interview with parents
  • Conversations with and observations of the child
  • Standardized assessments and questionnaires for child and parents

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a guide published by the American Psychiatric Association, provides criteria for making a diagnosis based on the nature, duration and impact of signs and symptoms. Another commonly used diagnostic guideline is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) from the World Health Organization.

Diagnosing mental illness in children can take time because young children may have trouble understanding or expressing their feelings, and normal development varies. Your child’s health care provider may change or refine a diagnosis over time.

Can childhood mental disorders be treated?

Childhood mental disorders can be treated and managed. There are many treatment options based on the best and most current medical evidence. Parents and doctors should work closely with everyone involved in the child’s treatment—teachers, coaches, therapists, and other family members. Taking advantage of all the resources available will help parents, health professionals, and educators guide the child towards success. Early diagnosis and appropriate services for children and their families can make a difference in the lives of children with mental disorders.

Common disorders among children

Anxiety disorders: Anxiety disorders in children are persistent fears, worries or anxiety that disrupt their ability to participate in play, school or typical age-appropriate social situations. Diagnoses include social anxiety, generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD: Compared with most children of the same age, children with ADHD have difficulty with attention, impulsive behaviors, hyperactivity or some combination of these problems.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological condition that appears in early childhood — usually before age 3. Although the severity of ASD varies, a child with this disorder has difficulty communicating and interacting with others.

Eating disorders: Eating disorders are defined as a preoccupation with an ideal body type, disordered thinking about weight and weight loss, and unsafe eating and dieting habits. Eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder — can result in emotional and social dysfunction and life-threatening physical complications.

Depression and other mood disorders: Depression is persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest that disrupt a child’s ability to function in school and interact with others. Bipolar disorder results in extreme mood swings between depression and extreme emotional or behavioral highs that may be unguarded, risky or unsafe.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is prolonged emotional distress, anxiety, distressing memories, nightmares and disruptive behaviors in response to violence, abuse, injury or other traumatic events.

How is mental illness in children treated?

Common treatment options for children who have mental health conditions include:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy or behavior therapy. Psychotherapy is a way to address mental health concerns by talking with a psychologist or other mental health professional. With young children, psychotherapy may include play time or games, as well as talk about what happens while playing. During psychotherapy, children and adolescents learn how to talk about thoughts and feelings, how to respond to them, and how to learn new behaviors and coping skills.
  • Medication: Your child’s health care provider or mental health professional may recommend a medication — such as a stimulant, antidepressant, anti-anxiety medication, antipsychotic or mood stabilizer — as part of the treatment plan. Your child’s provider will explain risks, side effects and benefits of drug treatments.
Frequently Asked Question on Childhood mental health
What is childhood mental health?

Childhood mental health refers to the emotional, behavioral, and social well-being of children. It encompasses a child’s ability to handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions. Good mental health is crucial for a child’s overall development.

What factors contribute to childhood mental health issues?

Various factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, family environment, traumatic experiences, and exposure to stress or violence, can contribute to mental health challenges in children

How can parents support their child's mental health?

Parents can support mental health by fostering a positive and supportive home environment, encouraging open communication, teaching coping skills, and seeking professional help if needed.

When should parents seek professional help for their child's mental health?

If parents notice persistent or severe changes in their child’s behavior, mood, or functioning, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of a mental health professional. Early intervention is crucial.

What role do schools play in supporting childhood mental health?

Schools can contribute to mental health by creating a positive and inclusive school environment, providing counseling services, and promoting mental health education and awareness.

Are there resources available for parents seeking information on childhood mental health?

Yes, there are numerous online and community resources, including educational websites, support groups, and mental health organizations, that provide information and support for parents.