How common are mental health conditions in children?
Approximately 25% of children experience some mental health struggle. The most common types include depression, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Though less common, children may also experience a developmental disorder, psychotic disorder, or early-onset bipolar disorder.
What are the signs of mental health problems in children?
Some signs of a mental health problem in children and adolescents include:
Depressive disorders are a category of mood disorders characterized by low mood, fatigue, loss of interest, sleep changes, and other symptoms. Risk factors for developing depression in childhood include emotional/psychological trauma and family history of mental illness.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, the most common of these being specific phobias which typically begin in childhood. These include fear of insects, fear of water/swimming, or fear of heights.
Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder occurring exclusively in children and is characterized by an inability to speak in one or more situations (e.g. at school, in public, or with non-family members), despite the ability to speak in other circumstances (e.g. at home or with close family). For more information on selective mutism, click here.
ADHD is a common condition characterized by difficulty concentrating, excessive energy, and impulsivity. ADHD can be treated with therapy and some medications.
Childhood schizophrenia and childhood bipolar disorder (now known as disruptive mood dysregulation disorder) are serious mental illnesses that significantly impair a child's development.
For a complete explanation of the signs of childhood schizophrenia, click here.
For a complete explanation of the signs of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, click here.
Trauma and stress-related conditions in children can develop as the result of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; neglect; domestic violence or witnessing domestic violence; inconsistency in environment such as in the foster system; or parental separation. These disorders include adjustment disorder, acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and reactive attachment disorder.
Conduct disorder is mental health condition occurring in children and adolescents and characterized by deceitful, violent, and destructive behavior and difficulty behaving in a socially acceptable way. A child with conduct disorder may be perceived by others as being a "bad kid" or being a delinquent. For more information on conduct disorder, click here.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is a type of feeding or eating disorder that affects both children and adults. It is categorized by an extreme selectiveness in the amount and types of food consumed, resulting in significant medical complications. ARFID also disproportionately affects people with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety disorders. You can find more information here.
Talk therapies, including cognitive behavioral techniques, can be used with children experiencing depression or anxiety, as well as other conditions.
For some, supplements for disorders like depression, anxiety, or ADHD may help diminish symptoms. For others, medication may be a better option (particularly for more serious conditions such as childhood schizophrenia).
Music therapy is a great technique for children with a variety of conditions from autism to trauma disorders.
Child play therapy is particularly common among younger children and should be employed by a therapist or psychologist specializing in children.
Family therapy may help address difficult relationship dynamics in the family, as well as help a family learn how to cope with their child's mental health condition.
Depending on the severity of the condition, special education may be in the best interest of your child.
If your children use the internet, then they are at risk of being exposed to pornography. Early exposure to pornography can result in serious consequences for their mental health. Good Pictures, Bad Pictures provides an age-appropriate way to prepare your children for what they should do if they encounter pornography.
This workbook provides cognitive-behavioral techniques for children and adolescents to address mental health challenges. This type of workbook is best used in partnership with a licensed therapist.
This book provides experiences and guidance for females on the autism spectrum and their families.
This book provides a way to discuss dissociation with children who may be traumatized or experiencing a dissociative disorder.
Developed by Rachel Star Withers, who has been living with schizophrenia since childhood, this book helps children cope with hallucinations and other symptoms of schizophrenia in childhood.
This CBT-based approach helps young teens address shyness and social anxiety. This workbook is best used in partnership with a licensed therapist.
Shielding Innocence offers faith-based trainings for parents on how to protect their children from sexual abuse. They are founded and run by two licensed mental health professionals with expertise in treating victims of abuse.