Mental health is an important part of overall health for children as well as adults. For many adults who have mental disorders, symptoms were present—but often not recognized or addressed—in childhood and adolescence. For a young person with symptoms of a mental disorder, the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it can be. Early treatment can help prevent more severe, lasting problems as a child grows up.
It can be tough to tell if troubling behavior in a child is just part of growing up or a problem that should be discussed with a health professional. But if there are behavioral signs and symptoms that last weeks or months, and if these issues interfere with the child’s daily life at home and at school, or with friends, you should contact a health professional.
Young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time
Often talk about fears or worries
Complain about frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause
Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing videogames)
Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares, or seem sleepy during the day
Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends
Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades
Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen.