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Mental Health Problems


Indicators of Potential Child Mental Health Issues
A child’s behavior can cause concern for many reasons. Not all children grow from infancy through their adolescent years without experiencing bumps along the way. While every child is unique and special, sometimes they encounter problems with feelings or behaviors that cause disruption in their lives and the lives of those around them. It can be difficult to tell the difference between normal developmental stages, which are temporarily disruptive, and more serious emotional disturbances.
Caregivers and parents must seek the information they need to help children grow and develop in a positive manner. Research confirms that getting help in the early stages of a mental health problem can prevent the problem from getting worse.

Below you will find general indicators of mental health problems as well as age specific indicators.

The general indicators can be seen at any time in development and should be addressed.  The age specific indicators are common concerns that surface for many youth who are having more serious challenges or stresses at a particular developmental stage.


Age Specific Indicators of Potential Mental Health Problems

General Indicators of Mental Health Problems

A child exhibiting one or more of these behaviors may benefit from a consultation with a mental health professional, please contact any of our offices for help.

Acting Out Behaviors Withdrawing Behaviors Defensive Behaviors Disorganized Behaviors
Self abuse Fears Lying Out of touch with reality
Aggression Depression Cheating Seeing or hearing things that aren't there
Violent Anxiety Manipulating others Multiple personalities
Disruptive Refusing to talk Avoiding others Disconnected thinking or acting
Cruelty Acting younger than actual age Refusing to be social  

Age Specific Indicators of Potential Mental Health Problems

Parents should also review the age specific behaviors that are indicative of mental health concerns. When a child behaves in unusual ways, it is difficult to distinguish between normal reactions and mental health concerns.  This developmental checklist for various age groups is helpful in detecting potential mental health concerns
.
Infants (0-12 months)
Jumpy or jittery, over-reacting to noise, touch or light
Does not notice when touched or when things are going on nearby
Excessive fussing or crying, inability to be soothed or comforted
Not gaining weight (not due to physical problem)
Lack of harmony between parent and child
   
Toddlers (1-3 years)
Delays of at least six months in walking, talking, social, or other behavior
Excessive hand-waving or hand-clapping
Self-destructive behavior, such as biting or head banging
Aggressive behavior directed at other people or things
Unable to become connected to people who take care of the child
Overly dependent or overly obedient
   
Preschoolers and Kindergartners (4-6 years)
Anxious or fearful, depressed mood, total lack of interest in or withdrawing from other people
Unable to separate from parents
Lack of confidence which keeps the child from having fun
Unable to control his/her own behavior
Aggressive behavior
Refusal to comply with rules and expectations
   
School-Age Children (7-12 years)
Depressed mood, loss of interest in activities and relationships
Trouble sleeping or difficulty with eating
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, suicidal talk or action
Continued resistance to attending school
Headaches or stomach aches that keep occurring but don’t seem to have a cause
Easily distracted or unable to pay attention
Poor school work, including being very behind in reading or math
Acting out sexual behaviors that are inappropriate for the child’s age
Sexual or physical aggression
Constant refusal to comply with rules at home or school
Truancy, chemical abuse, running away
Eating disorder, unusual eating patterns
Inability to develop values, morals, relationships, or educational goals
   
Adolescents (13-19 years)
Depressed mood, loss of interest in activities and relationships
Trouble sleeping or difficulty with eating
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, suicidal talk or action
Declining school performance or attendance
Sexual intrusiveness or promiscuity
Chronic resistance to complying with rules at home or school
Truancy, chemical abuse, running away
Eating disorder, unusual eating patterns
Conflicts around personal identity, such as values, morality, relationships, sexuality, vocational, or educational goals
   

Copyright © 2009
Youth Service Bureau

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