Decoding children’s mental health

Owing to the stigma attached to mental health, millions of people refrain from talking about it and suffer in silence without medical treatment or care.

Published: 10th February 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2019 10:57 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Owing to the stigma attached to mental health, millions of people refrain from talking about it and suffer in silence without medical treatment or care.

While celebrities have spoken about their struggles, one of the most overlooked section of society are children. Some of the common problems prevalent amongst children include depressive episode and recurrent depressive disorder, agoraphobia, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, phobic anxiety disorder and psychotic disorder.

As per the Indian education system, the ages between 10 and 17 are some of the most crucial years in a child’s lives. The transition from primary to secondary, class 10th and 12th board exams take place in the same years. Parents are not only responsible for their children's physical health, but also mental and emotional well-being.

Here’s how you can identify if your child is undergoing a mental health problem:

Changes in thinking: Any change in your child’s thought process should be analysed well as it could be the signal of a disorder. Declining performance in school, continuous self-criticism, negative thoughts and low self-esteem, are some of the blaring signs.

Changes in behaviour: Any change in your child’s thought process will be reflected in his or her behaviour. Always keep an eye on their reactions. If they are frequently seeking alone time, space, becoming emotional on smallest of things, withdrawing interest from activities they usually love a lot, have suddenly turned quiet, and have troubled sleep—it is time you take it seriously and speak to them.

Changes in physical health:  Any child’s poor mental health will simultaneously deteriorate their physical health too. It is a clear sign of health deterioration. The symptoms could be frequent headaches, neck pain, disturbed sleep, insomnia, tiredness and low energy levels. Do take these signs seriously and take immediate actions.

When faced with the above issues parents should also try and have an emotional connection and an open dialogue with their children. Show them more love when they are low and have an open conversation about what is troubling them. Kids are easy to speak to, if shown love and care.

It is important to be patient with children. Scolding them might just push them in their cocoon which would just worsen the entire situation.

The best option for parents is to approach a mental health professional at an early stage. Like any other disease, early identification of a mental disorder could be extremely helpful in combating it. If your child is diagnosed with a mental health problem, have an elaborate treatment plan in place at the earliest. This could include psychotherapy and  in some cases, medication. The plan should be developed with the family. Whenever possible, the child should be involved in treatment decisions.

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