Know the Signs: Mental Illness in Children

Know the Signs

Mental Illnesses can affect people of all ages, even children. The National Institute of Mental Health states that 1 in 5 children has had, or has, a debilitating mental disorder. According to Mayo Clinic, the most common mental health conditions amongst children are anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, or generalized anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), eating disorders, and mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) recorded that the most common mental illnesses amongst children ages 8-15 are ADHD, mood disorders, and major depression.


Children Mental Health

Mental illnesses in children can be hard to identify because children go through various developmental stages while growing up. Sometimes it can be difficult for parents to differentiate between what is normal childhood behavior, and what is a sign of a more serious problem.


Psychology Today states that there are 13 signs that may indicate that your child may have or may be developing a mental illness. If your child is displaying the following symptoms, you should pay attention.

  • Increased difficulty at school
  • Hitting or bullying other children
  • Attempting to self-harm or injure themselves in any way
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Experiencing frequent mood swings
  • Experiencing intense emotions such as angry outbursts or extreme fear
  • Lacking energy or motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping or having frequent  nightmares
  • Having many physical complaints
  • Neglecting their appearance
  • Obsessed with their weight, shape, or appearance
  • Eating significantly more or less than usual

If you observe any of these signs in your child, the first step should be to contact your pediatrician. They will be able to refer you to a mental health specialist who can properly make a diagnosis, if necessary. If your child is diagnosed with a mental health issue, there are things you can do like make a special plan with your child’s school to make the proper accommodations, and/or connect with other families to form a support system for yourself and your child.

There are various treatment options for children with mental illnesses. Some of the most common are types of psychotherapy like play therapy, art therapy, and animal-assisted therapy. These therapy types help children learn how to manage the symptoms of their illness while experiencing the joys of childhood. A mental illness diagnosis does not have to be alarming. Though mental health conditions often add some new challenges for families, many people with mental illnesses live happy, full lives, and with the right resources, your child can too.



About Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.:

Established in 2002 and headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, BHPI is a Managed Behavioral Health Organization offering behavioral health services through a fully integrated network of world-class healthcare providers.  Our emphasis is on adding value for our customers by offering expert behavioral care management, medical coordination,  chronic behavioral condition management.  We are a fully accredited NCQA Managed Behavioral Health Organization (MBHO) & CARF Behavioral Health Business Network. BHPI offers collaborative solutions by building strong partnerships with health plans, health systems, community mental health organizations, and employer groups.   

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