Frequently Asked Questions:
“Can a child experience mental illness?
A: Yes, just like adults, children can also experience mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) half of all life-time cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14.
“Is it harmful for my child to be ‘labelled’ or diagnosed with a mental illness so early on?”
, in fact it is
to ignore the signs of mental health issues in children. Early intervention is the key to creating positive and healthy outcomes. Failure to provide your child with mental health services is also considered medical neglect by DCF (Department of Children and Families) and this could result in your child being removed from your care.
How do I know if my child is experiencing ‘typical’ behavioral issues or a mental health issue?”
A: The below symptoms can be an indicator of a more concerning mental health issue:
- Problems across a variety of settings, such as at school, at home, or with peers
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Social withdrawal, or fearful behavior toward things your child normally is not afraid of
- Returning to behaviors more common in younger children, such as bed-wetting, for a long time
- Signs of being upset, such as sadness or tearfulness
- Signs of self-destructive behavior, such as head-banging, or a tendency to get hurt often
- Repeated thoughts of death (Source: NIMH)
How are mental illnesses diagnosed in children?”
A: First, speak with your child’s primary care doctor regarding your concern. Then, consult a mental health specialist (this can include: Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, & more) who will speak with you and your child to assess the signs and symptoms. Then, they may identify a diagnosis (or not!) and develop plan for treatment. This may include counseling sessions (play therapy, art therapy, family therapy – there are many different types of treatment) or a referral to a community program to help support you and your child. Consulting with professionals will not always lead to a diagnosis, in fact you may learn there are no greater concerns at all. Medication may also be prescribed, but that is a decision you and the specialist will make together.
National efforts to support Mental Health
Thursday May 10
, 2018 was
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
In Washington, DC the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) brought together governors’ spouses, youth and family leaders, senior federal officers, and executives from leading professional health organizations for a town hall discussion on how to transform child serving systems to be more trauma-informed
The Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was honored with the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award for their efforts in providing trauma-informed work in tribal nations across the country.