Mental health signs to look for

Sometimes without warning, a child’s behavior takes a noticeable change for the worse. If they become unusually sad or suddenly disruptive, it may be difficult to determine if it’s just a phase or a symptom of something more serious. Because of these difficulties, children who could benefit from behavioral support services don’t receive the help they need.

Understanding the warning signs of a significant emotional issue can help you decide when to seek professional help.

Warning signs for children 0-3

All children act out through tantrums and some level of defiance, but when these behaviors are full-blown and frequent, it may be time seek professional support. The following are some of the common warning signs of a mental health issue in young children ages 3 and younger:

  • Concerns the child may harm a pet or sibling
  • Exclusions from play dates because of the child’s behavior
  • More severe and frequent tantrums than other children their age
  • Parents are exhausted from extremely difficult day-to-day care
  • Strained relationships resulting from parenting conflicts


Warning signs for children 4-10

If you are concerned about a problem with your child’s behavioral and emotional development, it is important to request a professional evaluation as soon as possible. Too often, children do not get the mental health services they need because they are expected to grow out of their behaviors. The following are some of the top ways to identify if a child could benefit from mental health services:

  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Debilitating fears or worries
  • Extreme disobedience, anger and aggression
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • More aggressive, hyperactive or emotional behaviors than their peers
  • Nightmares and trouble sleeping
  • Sudden mood swings or changes in school performance


Warning signs for teens & young adults

Everyone has their own individual responses to life experiences and events, so identifying the signs of mental illness can be a challenge. The following are just a few of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that may indicate a treatable mental illness:

  • Drugs and alcohol are go-to coping methods
  • Headaches, nausea, aches and pains are frequent and severe
  • It is difficult to separate perceived ideas and feelings from reality
  • Overwhelming thoughts make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly
  • Sleeping and eating patterns are irregular or extreme
  • Worries and fears prevent enjoyment of normal day-to-day activities
  • Sudden, uncontrollable mood swings
  • Often feeling sad, down, irritable or irate


Seeking mental health treatment

If your child is showing signs of a mental health concern, resources are available for professional screenings and treatment services. Learn more about the process of seeking treatment in Stark County or contact a local mental health service provider to set up an initial screening.