Carroll Dragon’s Breath
It is normal for children and youth to experience various types of emotional distress as they develop and mature. For example, it is common for children to experience anxiety about school, or youth to experience short periods of depression that are transient in nature. When symptoms persist, it may be time to seek professional assistance. While most youth are healthy, physically and emotionally, one in every four to five youth in the general population meet the criteria for a lifetime mental disorder. As with physical health, mental health includes emotional well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being and involves being able to
- navigate successfully the complexities of life
- develop fulfilling relationships
- adapt to change
- utilize appropriate coping mechanisms to achieve well-being without discrimination
- realize their potential
- have their needs met
- develop skills that help them navigate the different environments they inhabit
There are many types of mental health disorders that affect youth such as Anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Depression, and Suicidal Thoughts
RISK AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS
There are wide ranges of risk factors and protective factors that influence Mental Health. Here is a link to a wealth of information about these risk and protective factors. https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth
If a young person has a variety of risk factors, it is important to seek assistance for the young person and his or her family. If a family member or friend is concerned, discussing the issue with another family member, friend, spiritual counselor, family pediatrician, or primary doctor could be helpful. Signs and behaviors to look for include, among others:
- Marked fall in school performance
- Poor grades in school despite trying very hard
- Severe worry or anxiety, as shown by regular refusal to go to school, go to sleep or take part in activities that are normal for the child's age
- Frequent physical complaints
- Marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
- Extreme difficulties in concentrating that get in the way at school or at home
- Sexual acting out
- Depression has shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty sleeping or thoughts of death
- Severe mood swings
- Strong worries or anxieties that get in the way of daily life, such as at school or socializing
- Repeated use of alcohol and/or drugs.
Information for this section on Mental Health was from the Youth.Gov website.
Mental illness in children: Know the signs
Mental illness in children can be hard for parents to identify. As a result, many children who could benefit from treatment don't get the help they need. Understand the warning signs of mental illness in children and how you can help your child cope.
Why is it hard for parents to identify mental illness in children?
It's typically up to the adults in a child's life to identify whether the child has a mental health concern. Unfortunately, many adults don't know the signs and symptoms of mental illness in children.
Even if you know the red flags, it can be difficult to distinguish between the signs of a problem from normal childhood behavior. You might reason that every child displays some of these signs at some point. And children often lack the vocabulary or developmental ability to explain their concerns.
Concerns about the stigma associated with mental illness, the use of certain medications, and the cost or logistical challenges of treatment might also prevent parents from seeking care for a child who has a suspected mental illness.
What mental health conditions affect children?
Children can develop all of the same mental health conditions as adults, but sometimes express them differently. For example, depressed children will often show more irritability than depressed adults, who more typically show sadness.
Children can experience a range of mental health conditions, including:
Anxiety disorders. Children who have anxiety disorders — such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder — experience anxiety as a persistent problem that interferes with their daily activities.
Some worry is a normal part of every child's experience, often changing from one developmental stage to the next. However, when worry or stress makes it hard for a child to function normally, an anxiety disorder should be considered.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This condition typically includes symptoms in difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Some children with ADHD have symptoms in all of these categories, while others might have symptoms in only one.
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism spectrum disorder is a serious developmental disorder that appears in early childhood — usually before age 3. Though symptoms and severity vary, ASD always affects a child's ability to communicate and interact with others.
- Eating disorders. Eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder — are serious, even life-threatening, conditions. Children can become so preoccupied with food and weight that they focus on little else.
- Mood disorders. Mood disorders — such as depression and bipolar disorder — can cause a child to feel persistent feelings of sadness or extreme mood swings much more severe than the normal mood swings common in many people.
- Schizophrenia. This chronic mental illness causes a child to lose touch with reality (psychosis). Schizophrenia most often appears in the late teens through the 20s.
What are the warning signs of mental illness in children?
Warning signs that your child might have a mental health condition include:
- Mood changes. Look for feelings of sadness or withdrawal that last at least two weeks or severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships at home or school.
- Intense feelings. Be aware of feelings of overwhelming fear for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing — or worries or fears intense enough to interfere with daily activities.
- Behavior changes. These include drastic changes in behavior or personality, as well as dangerous or out-of-control behavior. Fighting frequently, using weapons and expressing a desire to badly hurt others also are warning signs.
- Difficulty concentrating. Look for signs of trouble focusing or sitting still, both of which might lead to poor performance in school.
- Unexplained weight loss. A sudden loss of appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate an eating disorder.
- Physical symptoms. Compared with adults, children with a mental health condition might develop headaches and stomachaches rather than sadness or anxiety.
- Physical harm. Sometimes a mental health condition leads to self-injury, also called self-harm. This is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. Children with a mental health condition also might develop suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide.
- Substance abuse. Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings.
What should I do if I suspect my child has a mental health condition?
If you're concerned about your child's mental health, consult your child's doctor. Describe the behavior that concerns you. Consider talking to your child's teacher, close friends or loved ones, or other caregivers to see if they've noticed any changes in your child's behavior. Share this information with your child's doctor, too. Your child's doctor or mental health provider will work with your child to determine if he or she has a mental health condition based on criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) — a guide published by the American Psychiatric Association that explains the signs and symptoms that mark mental health conditions.
Your child's doctor or mental health provider will also look for other possible causes for your child's behavior, such as a history of medical conditions or trauma. He or she might ask you questions about your child's development, how long your child has been behaving this way, teachers' or caregivers' perceptions of the problem, and any family history of mental health conditions.
Diagnosing mental illness in children can be difficult because young children often have trouble expressing their feelings, and normal development varies from child to child. Despite these challenges, a proper diagnosis is an essential part of guiding treatment.
How can I help my child cope with mental illness?
Your child needs your support now more than ever. Before a child is diagnosed with a mental health condition, parents and children commonly experience feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration. Ask your child's mental health provider for advice on how to change the way you interact with your child, as well as how to handle difficult behavior.
Seek ways to relax and have fun with your child. Praise his or her strengths and abilities. Explore new stress management techniques, which might help you understand how to calmly respond to stressful situations.
Consider seeking family counseling or the help of support groups, too. It's important for you and your loved ones to understand your child's illness and his or her feelings, as well as what all of you can do to help your child.
To help your child succeed in school, inform your child's teachers and the school counselor that your child has a mental health condition. If necessary, work with the school staff to develop an academic plan that meets your child's needs.
If you're concerned about your child's mental health, seek advice. Don't avoid getting help for your child out of shame or fear. With appropriate support, you can find out whether your child has a mental health condition and explore treatment options to help him or her thrive.
CISD RESILIENCY PROJECT
As part of the District Resiliency Project, CISD Student Services has provided a wealth of resources to support you as you parent and lead your student. Please click on the link below to access information about Self-Care and Mental Wellness as well as the separate link for Suicide Prevention.
Susan Hester DIS 817-949-5300
Andrea Ragnow DIS 817-949-5300
Heather Kennedy EIS 817-949-5200
Dawn Riedl EIS 817-949-5200
Ziba Johnston JES 817-949-4500
Nicole Stolle OUES 817-949-4600
Kim Coffman RES 817-949-4700
Dana Gamache WGES 817-949-4400