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Tools to Help Parents ID Mental Illness in Children

Thursday, May 04, 2017

sad kid

Mental disorders among children and teens are common, yet they can go undetected for years because kids can’t always express what they’re experiencing, or parents can’t distinguish signs of mental illness from normal childhood behavior.

Statistics indicate 20 percent of children experience serious mental illness. Half of all chronic mental illness begin by age 14, and that percentage climbs to 75 percent by age 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children and young adults, ages 10 to 24.

Children can develop the same mental health conditions as adults, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders (such as depression and bipolar disorder), and eating disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, warning signs include:

•Mood changes

•Intense feelings

•Behavior changes

•Difficulty concentrating

•Unexplained weight loss

•Headaches and stomachaches

•Self-injury

•Substance abuse

An effective patient health questionnaire (P.H.Q.) is available to parents on the Mental Health America website. The questionnaire can help parents determine if they should have their child seen by a professional. Go to: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screen/parents.

“If you identify your child is struggling, you’re able to connect them with the right kinds of support and mitigate or reduce the impact of having to struggle alone with what they’re feeling,” said NewBridge Chief Operating Officer Michelle Borden, a licensed clinical social worker. “By catching it early, your child will be more likely to avoid the long-term effects of having to live with mental illness.”

To get help, contact NewBridge Services at services@newbridge.org or 973-316-9333. Visit newbridge.org for more information.

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