Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
Coping with Chronic Illness
Child Behavior Disorders
Children Mental Health
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Mental Health Is Important
Mental health is how people think,
feel, and act as they face life's situations. It affects
how people handle stress, relate to one another, and make
decisions. Mental health influences the ways individuals
look at themselves, their lives, and others in their lives.
Like physical health, mental health is important at every
stage of life.
All aspects of our lives are affected by our mental health.
Caring for and protecting our children is an obligation and
is critical to their daily lives and their independence.
Children and Adolescents Can Have Serious Mental Health Problems
adults, children and adolescents can have mental health disorders
that interfere with the way they think, feel, and act. When
untreated, mental health disorders can lead to school failure,
family conflicts, drug abuse, violence, and even suicide.
Untreated mental health disorders can be very costly to families,
communities, and the health care system.
Mental Health Disorders Are More Common in Young People
than Many Realize
Studies show that at least
one in five children and adolescents have a mental health
disorder. At least one in 10, or about 6 million people,
have a serious emotional disturbance.
The Causes Are Complicated
Mental health disorders in children
and adolescents are caused mostly by biology and environment.
Examples of biological causes are genetics, chemical imbalances
in the body, or damage to the central nervous system, such
as a head injury. Many environmental factors also put young
people at risk for developing mental health disorders. Examples
- Exposure to environmental toxins,
such as high levels of lead;
- Exposure to violence, such as witnessing or being the
victim of physical or sexual abuse, drive-by shootings, muggings,
or other disasters;
- Stress related to chronic poverty, discrimination, or
other serious hardships; and
- The loss of important people through death, divorce, or
Signs of Mental Health Disorders Can
Signal a Need for Help
Children and adolescents with mental
health issues need to get help as soon as possible. A variety
of signs may point to mental health disorders or serious
emotional disturbances in children or adolescents. Pay attention
if a child or adolescent you know has any of these warning
A child or adolescent is troubled
- Sad and hopeless for no reason, and these
feelings do not go away.
- Very angry most of the time
and crying a lot or overreacting to things.
- Worthless or guilty often.
- Anxious or worried often.
- Unable to get over a loss or
death of someone important.
- Extremely fearful or having
- Constantly concerned about physical
problems or physical appearance.
- Frightened that his or her
mind either is controlled or is out of control.
A child or adolescent experiences big changes, such as:
Showing declining performance in school.
Losing interest in things once enjoyed.
Experiencing unexplained changes in sleeping or eating
Avoiding friends or family and wanting to be alone all
Daydreaming too much and not completing tasks.
Feeling life is too hard to handle.
Hearing voices that cannot be explained.
Experiencing suicidal thoughts.
A child or adolescent experiences:
- Poor concentration and is unable to think straight or
make up his or her mind.
- An inability to sit still or focus attention.
- Worry about being harmed, hurting others, or doing something "bad".
- A need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines
hundreds of times a day, in order to avoid an unsubstantiated
- Racing thoughts that are almost too fast to follow.
- Persistent nightmares.
A child or adolescent behaves in ways that cause problems,
- Using alcohol or other drugs.
- Eating large amounts of food and then purging, or abusing
laxatives, to avoid weight gain.
- Dieting and/or exercising obsessively.
- Violating the rights of others or constantly breaking
the law without regard for other people.
- Setting fires.
- Doing things that can be life threatening.
- Killing animals.
Finding the Right Services Is Critical
To find the right
services for their children, families can do the following:
Get accurate information from hotlines, libraries, or
Seek referrals from professionals.
Ask questions about treatments and services.
Talk to other families in their communities.
Find family network organizations.
It is critical that people who are not satisfied with the
mental health care they receive discuss their concerns with
providers, ask for information, and seek help from other
- Important Messages About Child and Adolescent Mental Health:
- Every child's mental health is important.
- Many children have mental health problems.
- These problems are real, painful, and can be severe.
- Mental health problems can be recognized and treated.
- Caring families and communities working together can help.