Is My Child Okay? Signs of Mental Illness in Children


Are you concerned about your child’s health? Check out this guide to learn more about the signs of mental illness in children.

Around 1 in 5 children experience mental illness.

In the United States, anywhere between 13% to 20% of children are living with mental illness. It’s up to the adults in their lives to guide them towards treatment and healing.

You, too, can be that adult.

Learn how to recognize mental illness in children before it spirals out of control. Here are some symptoms children with mental illnesses might exhibit:

Mental Illness In Children: Mood Changes

Mood changes are a telltale sign of childhood mental illnesses.

When children suffer from depression, they tend to express it through irritability.

Many children with mental illness exhibit extreme mood swings. It’s a red flag if these mood swings cause problems in their relationships or schooling. Even children can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Experiencing intense feelings, crying a lot and withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed are also signs of depression in children. Beware of frequent emotional or angry outbursts.


Children with anxiety disorders are plagued with excessive worry and fear.

Another sign of childhood anxiety is being afraid to leave a parent’s side. Some children experience separation anxiety, but if it’s persistent, it’s a problem.

Headaches and stomachaches are also common anxiety symptoms in children.


Individuals diagnosed with children’s mental health disorders might attempt to harm themselves or others. That, or they’ve expressed thoughts of this nature.

Self-harm includes cutting, burning, and other harmful actions against oneself. If you find suspicious scars on your child, consider the chance your child might be self-harming.

Suicide attempts count as self-harm. Substance abuse also falls into this category.

Harming other people includes hitting, verbal abuse, or any other kind of bullying. It’s a red flag if all attempts at intervention for bullying behavior haven’t worked.

Weight and Eating Habit Changes

Someone with a children’s mental disorder may experience changes in eating habits. Your child may eat more or less than usual. As such, you may notice your child gaining or losing weight.

Overeating is especially common in childhood depression. Doctors diagnose children who binge and then purge their meals with bulimia.

If your child is obsessed with their weight and highly restrictive with calories, they’re likely suffering from anorexia. Learn about the signs your loved one is anorexic and what you can do to promote health/happiness.

Difficulties with Concentration and Energy Levels

Difficulties with concentration, focusing, and paying attention are signs of childhood mental illness. Sometimes, it’s because your child is distracted by their emotional issues. Other times, it’s because they struggle with concentrating in general.

If your child has attention problems, you’ll probably hear from their school. Children with attention problems might act out in class. They’re also prone to interrupting.

A child with a mental illness might display significant hyperactivity. A mental health professional will be able to tell if your child has ADHD.

Get the Help Your Child Needs

In the United States, over 10 million children live with mental illnesses. Learning how to recognize mental illness in children will make you a better parent.

Listen to caregivers, teachers, and loved ones when they express concerns about your child’s behavior. It could be more serious than you realize. Seek professional help if you suspect your child suffers from a mental illness.

Stay informed and educate yourself as a parent. It’s the best thing you can do for your children.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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