Children and Mental Health

Are the Kids Alright? Young People and Mental Health: Mental illness is often thought of only as an adult concern. But about half of mental illnesses begin to reveal themselves in childhood. What is the state of children’s mental health and how is it different from that of adults? Children and Mental Health: Almost 15 million American children have some kind of diagnosable mental disorder (1). 4 million American children and adolescents with a serious mental disorder (2). 2 in 10 children 9-17 with any diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment (2). 1 in 2 mental disorders that begin by age 14 (2). In any given year, only 20% of children with mental disorders are identified and treated (2). Most common disorders among children 8-15 (percentage in age group with disorder) (3). 8.6% ADHD. 3.7% Mood disorder. 2.7% Major depression. 2.1% Conduct disorder. 1% Depression. 0.7% Anxiety disorder. 0.4% Panic disorder. 0.3% Generalized anxiety disorder. 0.1% Eating disorder. Ripple Effects: Mental health problems can lead to issues with family and school – and can even lead children to attempt suicide. Suicide: Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people age 15-24. Suicide kills more Americans in this age group than these causes combined: cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease (2). 9 in 10 children and adolescents who commit suicide who have a mental disorder (2). School problems: 1 in 2 students 14 and older with a mental illness who drop out of high school (2). That’s the highest dropout rate for any disability group (2). Legal trouble: Youths in juvenile detention with at least one mental illness (2). 65% boys. 75% girls. Identifying and Treating the Problem: Early identification and adequate treatment can quite literally be the difference between life and death for young people with mental illness. Signs of mental illness: Signs can vary depending on the disorder and age of the child. Common signs of mental health trouble, by age group (4): Age 4-7, pre-school/early elementary years – bad behavior at preschool or daycare, extreme disobedience or aggression, lots of temper tantrums all the time, hyperactivity outside of what other children are doing, excessive fear, worrying or crying, persistent nightmares, insomnia. Age 7-11, grade school years – inconsistent friend group, extreme hyperactivity, loss of appetite, sudden drop in school performance, visual or auditory hallucinations, excessive fear and worrying, obsession over weight, sudden weight changes, visible and prolonged sadness, sudden change in sleep habits. Age 11-19, tween and teen years – other common signs on either list above, repeatedly threatening to run away, withdrawal from family or friends, destructive behavior, self-harm, troubling writings or art that suggests desire to harm self or others. Treatment: Though children’s brains are still in a state of development, adequate treatment of mental disorders can help put a young person on a path to a healthy future. Medication. Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy. Art therapy. Animal-assisted therapy. Group therapy. SOURCES: 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. Source:


22 responses to “Children and Mental Health”

  1. Yes. Thank you for the work that you do in Canada on behalf of your family and others. My own son needed mental health intervention from an early age, too. I’m thankful that we had insurance to cover the help he needed. Now we are navigating the education and health care system trying to help him with other health needs.

  2. I am a parent of a child who experiences mental health as well as other challenges. We recognized this at an early age, but navigating the systems to try and get support? Ugh.

    Thankfully, we…

    did not give up searching for support and answers and continued to believe in our child
    found some champions along the way – those people who took the time to get to know us, understand us and most importantly, believe in us.

    More awareness and recognition is needed that children can and do experience mental health challenges. Thanks for this post.

  3. Reblogged this on SURVIVORS BLOG HERE and commented:

    Special Thanks to Kitt O’Malley. She does amazing work on her site. Please check out her site.

  4. Thanks a million. You have great resources on your page.
    Take care.

  5. Yes, of course. Thank you.

  6. Hi Kitt
    Can I reblog this post? Great resource list here. It give me a place to start.
    Thank you

  7. cgiclinic Avatar

    I agree, its always more effective to have a supportive, non-judgemental approach.

  8. I’m struggling to get my own affairs in order, but I hope I am able to help them lead better lives than my generation and the generation before me… at least in this regard.

  9. You are addressing their needs. For that, I applaud you. Early intervention can really help, especially when it is supportive, compassionate, non-judgmental, and non-labeling.

  10. Lived this, and living to see my own children live this.

  11. Children: Our most valuable asset and the most neglected segment of society. Our hope for a better tomorrow hinges on our children who are ignored when they need help the most.

  12. Reblogged this on Shedding Light on Mental Illness and commented:

    Recognizing mental illness in young people is critical. The numbers just don’t lie.

  13. Hi Kitt, i completely agree — each child being unique should be one of the main tenets of child psychiatry 🙂

  14. I agree. We need some open-ended diagnoses for children, so that they can get the help they need without being negatively labeled. When we first took our son to a psychiatrist, we met the psychiatrist as a family for 50 minute sessions. Medication was only a component of treatment. Family support, helping us to understand and interact with our son, to realize that the parenting advice that might work with other children did not work necessarily with our son. Each child is unique. Each family is unique.

  15. As a psychiatrist I still struggle a bit with the idea of diagnosing children as early as preschool. I agree with the importance of seeking help if needed but often question how much is environmental…sometimes once a child is diagnosed the emphasis is placed on the child being the problem (i have several adult patients who were treated as children and grow up feeling defective and at fault).

  16. Thank you. Provided by as a promo. Doubt their schools are top notch. Believe that they are using this as an advertising aid. But looks like good info regardless.

  17. I like that visual aid. Very nice.

  18. Interesting information. Worth sharing.

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