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BE: MENTAL WELLNESS IN CHILDREN

From The Defense Health Agency

Although their stressors or behaviors may be different, children can experience mental illness and require professional help. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), research shows that half of all life​time cases of mental illness begin by age 14. Once mental illness develops, it becomes expressed through your child’s behavior and can be challenging to treat. Very young children often cannot express their thoughts and feelings, so making a diagnosis can be challenging.

The signs of a mental illness in a young child may be quite different from those in an older child or adult. Common disorders affecting children include anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Even though we know how to treat many disorders, many children with mental illnesses are not getting treatment. If you notice worrisome behavior at home, ask your child’s teacher if they have noticed similar behavior. Talk to your child’s doctor and ask if your child needs further evaluation by a specialist with experience in child mental health and behavioral problems.

Although not every problem is serious and each child develops differently, it is important to pay attention your child’s growth and development. Every day stressors can cause a change in your child’s mood and behavior. Pay special attention to certain symptoms and behaviors, like sudden changes in appetite or sleep, problems at school, at home, or with peers; and fearful behavior toward things thing your child is normally not afraid of. For a more comprehensive list of problem symptoms and behaviors and a list of questions that might help you determine if you should seek help for your child, download the NIMH’s document Treatment of Children with Mental Illness: FAQs.

Mental health problems can affect the thoughts, mood and behavior in adults and children. Learn about Getting Mental Health Care on the TRICARE website.​