Monday 30 November, 2020

Children and mental illness - Know the signs

Mental Illness Awareness Week is celebrated around the world during the first full week in October, with the goal of raising public education about issues related to mental health. 

While the conversation is usually centered on the health of the adult mind, children too can develop the same mental health conditions as adults. It is necessary for parents to pay close attention to the warning signs of mental illness so children can be treated early.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the mental health conditions that affect children include anxiety disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), eating disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia.

Some of the warning signs include:

  • Mood and behavioural changes: these include sadness, isolation and severe mood swings that can affect home or school life. Also look out for dangerous behaviours such as fighting and expressing a desire to hurt others. 
  • Intense emotions such as fear which prevent the child from engaging in normal daily activities. 
  • Difficulty concentrating: Pay attention to poor performance at school. 
  • Unexplained weight loss: Loss of appetite and the use of laxatives may indicate an eating disorder. 
  • Self harm: Deliberating causing injury to oneself by cutting or burning. 
  • Drug or alcohol abuse: Some children may turn to drugs or alcohol to help cope with problems. 

World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10, 2019. 

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