There are over 4 million children in the U.S currently suffering a severe mental disorder resulting in some type of a functional impairment for them.
It has also been estimated that another 21% of children from the ages of 9 to 17 experience some type of addictive behavior or diagnosable mental disorder causing minimal dysfunction for them. What happens to these kids when they become adults?
Statistics show that one half of all lifetime mental disorders started when the person was 14 years old. These same statistics show that there is a long lapse in time between when these kids first show symptoms and when they first receive treatment.
The overall health of children is important to parents but many times they fall short when it comes to getting their child a doctor if they are experiencing mental health issues.
Why is it that parents would not think twice about calling a doctor if their child falls, cuts themselves badly, or breaks a bone, yet they more than hesitate in getting them help when they are struggling with their mental health? Is it because we think that somehow we have failed if our children have mental health issues?
Is it because we know that our society still attaches a huge stigma to people with mental health issues? Whatever the reason, it is a sad fact that postponing treatment for a mental health issue usually results in the mental health issue becoming worse and also making it harder to be treated.
If we could only understand that getting our children help early for a mental health issue would cause them less harm in the long run, then maybe we would be more likely to seek out help when we thought they first needed it.
How then, as parents, do we know when to seek out help for our kids if we think they are experiencing mental health issues?
One of the first signs that your child may need a psychologist is if they are experiencing sudden and/or violent changes in their behavior of their mood.
Some say that any form of aberrant behavior should be cause for contacting a psychologist but we must be aware that all kids will at some time act out when they are upset. This is only normal for kids to do.
It is when there is no reasonable cause for the child to act the way they are that parents should be concerned. Other signs that parents should look for that may indicate to them that they should get a psychologist are the following:
Signs of Developmental Problems
- Wetting the bed, aggression, violent acting out, mood swings, excessive anger or any other severe or sudden change in a child’s normal behavior
- Showing signs of withdrawal from social situations and/or general isolationism
- Sleep problems which may exhibit themselves in the form of excessive sleeping or insomnia
- A dramatic change in their grades at school, such as a once high achiever starting to receive bad grades
- Behind in developing in the areas of toilet training, ability to concentrate and speech
- Bullying or problems in dealing with bullies
- Increased physical discomfort in the forms of stomach aches, headaches and other such complaints where the doctor finds nothing wrong.
Another reason you should call a psychologist is if your child has not reached any of their developmental milestones such as toilet training, talking, reading and writing by the time they reach the age they should be entering school.
It is also important to communicate with the other adults your child comes into contact each day to get their feedback on what they have seen going on with your child.
Once you have decided that you want your child to see a psychologist it is important that you choose the right one.
Make sure you get one that specializes in child psychology. Good luck and don’t be afraid to get the opinion of one if you are worried about your child.