Today is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day; a day to raise awareness about mental disorders affecting children along with effective mental health treatment plans available for children and adolescents.
There are many myths regarding mental illness in children, the most common three myths are listed below.
Myth 1: Mental illness in children is caused by poor parenting.
Mental health disorders, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure, are legitimate medical illnesses. Research indicates that a combination of biological and environmental factors contribute to mental illnesses in children.
Examples of biological factors include: genetic contributions, neuro-chemical imbalances, and damage to the central nervous system due to exposure to toxins or as a result of head injury.
Examples of environmental factors include: common stressors such as divorce, death of a parent, exposure to violence or abusive situations, academic difficulties, bullying episodes and social alienation.
Myth 2: Children or adolescents do not suffer from depression or anxiety disorders. Any problems they have are simply a part of “growing up.”
Just like adults, children and adolescents can develop a severe mental illness. One in ten children in the US have a mental illness that is severe enough to cause impairment. However, only 20% of the children diagnosed receive the necessary mental health treatment.
Myth 3: If children tried hard enough, they will “snap out” of depression or anxiety related symptoms. However, anger outbursts and opposition in children are character flaws that need to be addressed in a disciplinary manner.
Experiencing severe depression or anxiety has nothing to do with being weak. These symptoms result from changes in the child’s brain chemistry, which is secondary to biological or environmental stressors.
Many biologically based illnesses in children, like: autism, depression, anxiety disorders, ADHD, and bipolar disorder are associated with anger outburts, oppositional behaviors, and meltdowns. It would be detrimental to a child’s treatment to categorize such behavior as a “character flaw” when medical treatments are readily available to help regulate mood swings and reduce anger and opposition.
If such symptoms are present in a child, a psychiatric evaluation is strongly recommended in ruling out treatable mental illnesses. If the child is diagnosed with a mental disorder, a broad range of services are available and sometimes necessary to provide adequate treatment so the child can be productive in life.
Apex Behavioral Health has several child psychiatrists and numerous child therapists available to help make life more enjoyable for you and your child.
Research found that nearly one-third of caregivers of young children with mental health challenges reported less train 6 months after their children entered services in a system of care. Caregivers reported less strain in feeling sad, unhappy, or isolated, as well as less disruption of family routine and missed work due to their child’s emotional problems.
“The earlier we recognize a child’s mental health needs, the sooner we can help,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Early recognition and intervention can prevent years of disability and help children and families thrive. All parents should learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in early childhood; furthermore, they should seek help for their child’s mental health problems with the same urgency as any other health condition.”