Mental illness is difficult to deal with no matter what age you are. However, for children, dealing with mental illness can be particularly difficult. From the perspective of adulthood, childhood is often perceived as a time of simplicity and low-stress. However, research has shown that for many kids, this simply isn’t the case.
While it’s never easy for parents to watch their child struggle, it’s important to understand the signs of mental illness in kids as well as how child therapy can help them overcome difficult thoughts, experiences and emotions.
What are the benefits of seeing a child psychologist?
If your child is struggling with mental health difficulties, choosing a child therapist is one of the best ways to ensure they get the help they need. A child psychologist:
- Will specialise in evidence-based therapeutic techniques that establish trust between child and professional and allow the child to communicate and express themselves in a way that is natural for them.
- Can provide specialised recommendations about how to manage your child’s wellbeing.
- Will have a detailed understanding of how mental illness and trauma can manifest in children and how it differs from the experiences of adults.
- Understands how to explain mental illness to children in a way that doesn’t cause distress, guilt or fear.
- Understands how to navigate the unique boundaries that come with gaining your child’s trust while ensuring that you are made aware of any important information that is learned during sessions.
What you should know about mental illness in children
It’s important to understand that a child’s understanding of the world, as well as their problem-solving and communication skills, are still forming – which makes common issues such as bullying and academic difficulties incredibly hard to deal with. For many children, symptoms of mental illness can disguise themselves as common childhood issues such as bad behaviour and mood swings. This can make recognising mental health issues more difficult for parents. However, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of mental illness so you can get your child the help they need as soon as possible.
Common mental health issues affecting children
You may be surprised to learn that kids are susceptible to the same kinds of mental health problems that adults face. The most common conditions include depression, anxiety, attachment issues, Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD], Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [OCD] and eating disorders.
Signs that your child may be living with mental illness include:
- Social anxiety.
- Generalised anxiety.
- Difficulty communicating or interacting with others.
- Disordered eating habits, obsession with exercise or preoccupation with a certain body type.
- Persistent feelings of sadness.
- Drastic changes in mood.
- Sudden loss of interest in activities that they once loved.
- Persistent behavioural problems.
- Changes in performance at school.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Unexplained loss of weight.
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches.
What can cause mental health issues in kids?
There are many reasons why your child may be experiencing mental health issues. Genetic factors – such as a history of mental illness in the family – are quite common as this can make children more vulnerable to mental health concerns. In addition to this, the family environment and experiences of suffering can also trigger mood disorders in children. If your child is or has been exposed to domestic violence, family dysfunction, divorce or major trauma of any kind, this can have an impact on their overall wellbeing.
How can mental illness affect your child’s life?
On a personal level, affected children may act out, withdraw themselves from social activities or use self-harm in order to cope with their feelings. It is also common for a child’s education to be compromised, as they can become disinterested or unmotivated when it comes to school.
While your child may be the only member of your family with a mental illness at first, it’s true that ongoing issues can have a lasting effect on the family dynamic. It’s common for this situation to cause conflict between parents, to make other children in the family to feel neglected or to even trigger mental illness in those who are living with or caring for the affected child.
As you can see, there are mental illness affects virtually every aspect of a child’s and their family’s life. This is why it’s crucial to seek help as soon as possible, as mental illness left untreated will simply continue to get worse over time.
Understanding parent child counselling
Parent-child counselling recognises that parenting a child with mental illness can be tough, and seeks to provide support to both child and parent to help them cope. Parenting psychologists will not only work with children to understand the thoughts, feelings and experiences that are affecting them but provides management techniques that parents can use in day-to-day life.
Here at Perth Psychology Collective, we offer a wide range of mental health services for children and adults, including Play Therapy and parent-child counselling. The techniques taught by our parenting psychologists include how to encourage positive behaviour, how to understand the emotional needs of a vulnerable child and how to manage difficult or undesirable behaviour.
Book an appointment today
If you believe that your child may be suffering from a mental illness, it’s important to get them professional help sooner rather than later. Here at Perth Psychology Collective, we are committed to helping children of all ages manage and overcome their mental health difficulties so they can go on to lead healthy, happy lives.
Contact us today to learn more about our child psychology and parenting psychologists, or to book your appointment with one of our professionals.