Mental Illness In Children

According to WHO, 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide experience some or the other mental disorders. Children with mental disorders face major challenges as a result of stigmatization, isolation and discrimination, lack of access to health care and education facilities. If these illnesses remain untreated, it influences children’s development, their educational attainments and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives. There is a need to break the stigma associated with mental health for children and make parents aware about common mental illness and what are some signs that can help them to identify it in their children and take a step towards their children’s health and well-being.

It is important to understand what are some common stigma and misconceptions around children’s mental illness to work towards awareness and change in society.

The misconception that states if the child has any mental illness, they are damaged for life but the reality is that if a child’s symptoms are identified and treated earlier, it helps in managing, overcoming the symptoms and aiding their development into healthy adults. The misconception states that children will get over these issues with time or as they grow and through their will power but the reality is, it is not a phase or some ups and downs in children life. If it is not identified and treated it can lead to distress, dysfunction and can co-morbid with other illness and it became more difficult to treat during adulthood.

It impacts their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives. The stigma associated with mental health leads to parents questioning their child’s health that it is necessary to go to the clinic? Is therapy for kids or what if they over-medicate the child? Some might even start questioning their parenting style and the capabilities of their children. It is not the result of a child’s weakness or the result of their parents’ style for upbringing; it could be the factor that contributes to it but it cannot be the cause of illness. Therapy and medication are proven to be effective for children to overcome and maintain those symptoms and lead to a healthy life as an individual.

These are certain facts about childhood mental illnesses. They are as follow:

  • Mental health illnesses are common in children. The common mental disorders for children are depression, anxiety and ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Other mental disorders for children are Autism spectrum disorder, developmental disorders, Separation anxiety, Intellectual deficiency disorder, a genetic disorder like Down syndrome and so on.
  • The developmental and psychotic disorder in children has a lifelong impact on the child and their family.
  • There is no one particular cause of mental illness in children. It could be impacted by multiple factors that lead towards the illness or the combination of genes and environmental factors.
  •  The specific symptoms for the illness can vary from the age and developmental stage of the children.
  • There is a variety of treatment available for children in terms of medication and psychotherapy like an occupational therapist, child therapist, children counsellor and certain organizations which specifically focus on dealing and treatment of children with mental illness.
  • These treatments are effective for children. The earlier signs and symptoms are recognized and lead towards treatment it will become more beneficial in the treatment and long-term well-being of children.
  • It is important to make communities and parents aware of the ways to identify signs and symptoms and also about the benefits of treatment to break the stigma and misconception associated with the mental illness of children.

This article talks about the stigma, misconception and reality related to mental illness in children. It highlights certain facts about the mental illness of children, signs and symptoms, benefits of early treatment, and awareness in parents and community. It shows that children can be dealing with mental illness and are unable to express or understand it, so it is important as a family, parents or community to identify or recognize these signs and symptoms which leads to early treatment and helps them in overcoming or maintaining the symptom. It is important to strengthen information systems, evidence and research, to provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services. To implement strategies for the promotion of psychosocial well-being, prevention of mental disorders and promotion of human rights for a young individual.

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Masters in Psychology, Delhi University Curious about Psychology, writer by expressivity ! Expression of human thoughts via words is one of the biggest achievements of mankind. "Run to rescue with love and peace will follow"- Joaquin Phoenix
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