Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!

As parents, we care deeply about our child’s well being, and make sure we take them to their annual physical exam. However, the emotional well being of a child is often not monitored and addressed with the same vigor as their physical well being. Unfortunately, it takes a crisis to call our attention to the mental and emotional turmoil of our children. And, sometimes, it is too late.

According to the World Health Organization, 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders across all cultures. About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of worldwide disability in young people. And, when left untreated, they lead to school failure, family conflicts, substance abuse, violence, juvenile and criminal justice involvement and suicide. In the U.S., suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined. Over 90 percent of children and adolescents who commit suicide have a mental disorder.

Fortunately, early intervention and comprehensive treatment works!

As a mother and mental health advocate, my heart breaks every time I hear a parent say “if only I had sought help sooner, perhaps my child would still be alive.” As parents, it is critical we educate ourselves about the early signs and symptoms of mental illness, and seek help.

Here are 12 Questions Every Parent Should Ask About Their Child’s Mental Health. Please share it with your family and friends, and get help if your child needs it. You can save your child’s life!

Your Child’s Mental Health: 

12 Questions Every Parent Should Ask

Does my child…

  1. Often seem sad, tired, restless, or out of sorts?
  2. Spend a lot of time alone?
  3. Have low self-esteem?
  4. Have trouble getting along with family, friends, and peers?
  5. Have frequent outbursts of shouting, complaining, or crying?
  6. Have trouble performing or behaving in school?
  7. Show sudden changes in eating patterns?
  8. Sleep too much or not enough?
  9. Have trouble paying attention or concentrating on tasks like homework?
  10. Seem to have lost interest in hobbies like music or sports?
  11. Show signs of using drugs and/or alcohol?
  12. Talk about death or suicide?

If you answered yest to four or more of these questions, and these behaviors last longer than 2 weeks, you should seek professional help for your child.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services, USA.

About the Author

Gayathri Ramprasad

Gayathri Ramprasad is the founder and president of ASHA International and the author of Shadows in the
Sun: Healing from Depression
and Finding the Light Within.

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