Does your child show abnormal signs? What you can do.
About 20% of children and adolescents worldwide are recorded to experience mental health disorders with half of all mental illnesses beginning by the age of 12, and three quarters by mid 20s.
According to the World Health Organization, neuropsychiatric conditions are the leading cause of disability in young people worldwide. If untreated, this can severely influence children’s development, their educational attainments and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives.
In our part of the world, children with mental disorders face various challenges especially due to some cultures which brand such children as cursed and outcast. They are mostly stigmatized, isolated, discriminated and given limited access to some basic needs including access to education and health-care. In some cases they are denied their fundamental human rights.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, the following may be a good reason to see a mental health professional.
1. Withdrawal — Social withdrawal and loss of interest in others
2. Drop in functioning — An unusual drop in functioning at school, work or social activities such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems thinking — Problems with concentration, memory or logical thought and speech that is hard to explain
4. Increased sensitivity — Heightened sensitivity to sight, sound, smell or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations
5. Apathy — Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity
6. Feeling disconnected — A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality
7. Illogical thinking — Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking not so typical of child
8. Nervousness — Fear or suspicion of others or a strong nervous feeling
9. Unusual behavior – Odd, uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior
10. Sleep or appetite changes — Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or decline in personal care
11. Mood changes — Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings
According to the association, one or two of the above, cannot predict a mental illness. But if a person or the child is experiencing several of them at a time, and the symptoms are causing serious problems in the ability to study, work or relate to others, then it could be a mental disorder. The parent needs to consult a mental health practitioner as soon as they suspect a change in the child’s behavior for immediate attention.
Are you checking your child’s behavior regularly? Is your child exhibiting these warning signs? Visit a mental health doctor as soon as possible.