Why Do Some Children Have Trouble at Home and School? Let’s Talk About Children and Mental Health
Mental health in children has to do with children getting along well in their lives at home, in school and in their community. This means children are reaching the development and emotional milestones they should for their age. They also should have the right social skills and the ability to deal with problems that may come up. However, some children can develop mental health disorders that can affect their home and school life.
What are childhood mental disorders?
Childhood mental disorders cause serious changes in children’s learning, behavior and emotions. These changes can cause children to have problems doing the things they do every day.
Some of the more common childhood mental disorders that children can be affected by are:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Children that develop ADHD have a hard time paying attention, controlling their behavior, thinking about the results of their actions, or are overly active. ADHD is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often continues into adulthood.
Anxiety: Children should outgrow childhood fears and worries as they get older. When children do not and these worries or fears get in the way of their school and home life they can be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Behavior disorders: A child may be diagnosed with a behavior disorder if they are acting out in ways that are not common for their age, if the disruptive behavior lasts for a long time or is very serious.
Other disorders can affect children’s mental health like learning or developmental disabilities, autism, substance abuse and harming themselves.
What are the symptoms of childhood mental disorders?
The symptoms of childhood mental disorders depend on the age of the child. Symptoms can also change as the child grows. They include having a hard time with how they:
- • play
- • learn
- • speak
- • behave, and
- • deal with their feelings
Most of the time symptoms start in early childhood, but some disorders are more common during the teenage years. Children are often diagnosed with a mental disorder during the school years. Some children with a mental disorder may not be noticed and not diagnosed as having one.
Can childhood mental disorders be treated?
Yes, childhood mental disorders can be treated. There are many treatment options for childhood mental disorders. Parents and the child’s doctors often work closely with other people in the child’s life like teachers, family members, and other mental health professionals. Getting an early diagnosis and the right services for children with mental disorders and their families has a big effect on the life of these children.
Who can get a childhood mental disorder?
Boys and girls of any age, race and living in any area across the United States can be affected by a mental disorder. The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine estimates that almost one in five children has a mental disorder in any given year.
How do mental disorders affect children long-term?
Mental disorders are chronic health conditions, meaning they can last for a long time and often do not go away completely. Children with mental disorders can have problems adjusting to life at home and school. They can also have trouble developing friendships and relationships. If they do not receive an early diagnosis and treatment, these problems can continue into adulthood.
What you can do?
Parents: You are the person who knows your child best, if you notice changes in your child’s behavior at home or at school and you are concerned speak to your child’s pediatrician.
Children: Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your body. If you are having a hard time dealing with your feelings whether you are feeling afraid, angry, worried or sad, talk to someone you trust. This can be a friend, teacher, coach, or family member.
Healthcare professionals: Providing an early diagnosis and treatment to children affected by mental disorders has a big effect on their life. Following any updated guidelines is very important. There are resources available to help healthcare professionals diagnose and treat children with mental disorders.
Teachers/School administrators: If you have concerns about the mental health of a child in your class or school, reach out to their family and healthcare professionals. An early diagnosis can help children get the help they need.
Children’s Mental Health (2017). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Human Development and Disabilities, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.