Rates of mental health illness occurrence are rising across the globe. The figures change between countries, often between regions within those countries as well, but a reasonable average that can be applied to the entire world population suggests that as many as one in four of us will either suffer from a mental illness or have a close friend or family member who does.
The underlying reasons for the rise are just as complex as those that underpin the variations in the availability and quality of care for those who are suffering from such issues. Unsurprisingly, many parents are becoming more curious about how they can identify a child at risk of developing mental health issues and what the early warning signs are. Remember, however, neither children or adults should ever ‘self-diagnose’; if you suspect a problem, have it checked and confirmed by a trained professional.
A Persistent Low Mood
A persistent low mood is defined as a period of withdrawal and or low mood that lasts for at least two weeks and has no obvious or rational cause. For example; if a family pet dies that your child is close too and they are subsequently less happy than usual for a few weeks, this is a perfectly natural and proportional reaction that does not necessarily indicate a more serious mental health condition. Grief counseling is available to help children recover from emotional trauma, it generally involves fewer sessions and is a quicker process than treating a child for full blown depression.
Self-harming is one of the biggest warning signs that a child needs help. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of taboos and misunderstandings surrounding self-harming and what it means. These often lead to parents either dramatically over reacting, which can make the experience scarier for a child, or brush the behavior off as attention seeking. Self-harm comes in many forms, sometimes it is intended to cause serious injury; others are a spur of the moment stress reliever. If you notice bruises or cuts on your child’s arm or legs or catch them in the act of hitting, pinching, scratching themselves, you should talk to them calmly about what is going on and try and book them an appointment with a child psychologist.
Contrary to popular belief, depression is more than just a sad or unhappy mood. It is often characterized by either the absence of any emotion or of experiencing a range of other emotions in an overwhelming way. Fear and anxiety are two of the most common ones. If you are interested in better understanding the complexities of child psychology, then consider studying for an online masters in counseling. An online counseling degree, such as the one offered by Regis, will teach students how to identify and respond to mental health issues when they present in a wide range of circumstances.
It is important to keep an eye on your child’s behavior and to know how to spot any indications of mental health problems. Always consult with a trained professional if you have worries and remember to never react in a way that causes further distress.