Mental Health Warning Signs and What You Can Do to Help Your Child

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Caring for a child’s mental health may not be as easy as caring for their physical health. But, it’s ultimately just as important in their development. 

Mental Health America provides support for mental health all year long and they’ve compiled this helpful document on how parents can care for their children with mental health at the forefront. 

Recognizing and treating mental health problems early may prevent serious issues from arising down the road. Here are some of their warning signs to look for in a child:

  • Talks about suicide or death 
  • Hurts other people or animals; or damages property 
  • Has major changes in eating or sleeping habits 
  • Loses interest in friends or things usually enjoyed 
  • Falls behind in school or earns lower grades
  • Feels very sad, hopeless or irritable 
  • Feels overly anxious or worried 
  • Is scared and fearful; has frequent nightmares 
  • Is excessively angry 
  • Uses alcohol or drugs

If there’s a concern that a child is experiencing a mental illness, it’s imperative that a parent or guardian seek the help of a medical or mental health professional. 

There are many other things parents can do to help a child dealing with mental health issues. Mental Health America suggests:

  • Let your children know that everyone experiences pain, fear, sadness, worry, and anger and that these emotions are a normal part of life, encourage them to talk about their concerns and to express their emotions. 
  • Be a role model—talk about your own feelings, apologize, don’t express anger with violence, and use active problem-solving skills. 
  • Encourage your children’s talents and skills, while also accepting their limitations. 
  • Celebrate your children’s accomplishments. 
  • Give your children opportunities to learn and grow, including being involved in their school and community and with other caring adults and friends.

Mental health issues are treatable when identified. Early diagnosis can help children live a confident life and grow into independent, empowered adults. 

For more resources, visit our Resources page. 

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About Boone County Alliance

Since 2010, BCA has devoted its energy to develop and implement individual and community strategies to combat the local substance abuse dilemma. In order to achieve its mission of a united community where all youth are drug free, BCA engages in activities related to prevention, advocacy, and collaboration. BCA focuses on prevention of underage drinking, marijuana use, and prescription drug misuse/abuse.