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Mental Health, When to Seek Treatment for Your Child

When to Seek Mental Health Treatment for Your Child

It is vital to know when to seek treatment for a mental health concern. Parents are often the first to suspect their child or teen is challenged by feelings, behaviors and / or factors in their environment. These challenges can cause them to act out, rebel, and feel sad or worried.

Symptoms and behaviors can look different in children based on their age. Knowing what to look for can help you notice problems sooner. When spotted early, these problems are often easier to treat.

If you think your child may have one or more of these signs or symptoms, seek help. There is effective treatment for mental health disorders.

Signs and Symptoms in a Child

These are the most common symptoms that may be linked to an emotional, behavioral and / or developmental problem in a child. Children with these symptoms may need a mental health evaluation.

  • Large drop in school performance or poor grades
  • Withdrawal from activities, friends, family
  • Sleep problems (night terrors, nightmares, cannot sleep, sleeping a lot)
  • Excessive hyperactivity
  • Nonstop or frequent aggression or "acting out"
  • Nonstop or frequent rebellion; opposition to authority and direction
  • Refusal to attend school on a routine or frequent basis
  • Refusal to take part in school and / or family activities
  • Excessive worry and / or anxiety
  • Excessive, frequent temper tantrums
  • Sexualized behaviors or play

Signs and Symptoms in a Teen

These are the most common symptoms that may be linked to an emotional, behavioral and / or developmental problem in a teen. Teens with these symptoms may need a mental health evaluation.

  • Large drop in school performance or poor grades
  • Withdrawal from activities, friends, family
  • Substance (alcohol and drugs) abuse
  • Changes in sleep patterns or sleep problems
  • Depression (poor mood, negativity, mood swings)
  • Changes in eating habits (refusal to eat, excessive eating, food rituals, binge eating, purging)
  • Nonstop or frequent aggression or "acting out"
  • Destructive behaviors (vandalism, criminal activity)
  • Frequent rebellion; opposition to authority and direction
  • Skipping school
  • Lying or cheating
  • Frequent anger
  • Excessive worry and / or anxiety
  • Self-harm behaviors
  • Threats to self or others
  • Thoughts and / or talk of suicide
  • Running away or making threats to run away
  • Sexually "acting out"
  • Many physical complaints

Last Updated 07/2021

Reviewed By Sara Hughes, RN

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