Mental Health and Your Child: When to Seek Help

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One in 6 children between the ages of 2-8 has a mental, developmental, or behavioral disorder. What are the signs and how do you know when it’s time to seek help? In young children, having multiple of these symptoms may be a sign that your child could benefit from treatment:

  • Frequent nightmares, sleeping too much or too little or being sleepy throughout the day
  • Struggles academically or grades declined recently
  • Can’t be still or sit quietly (except when playing games or watching TV)
  • Talk about fears a lot
  • Have frequent tantrums or are very irritable most of the time
  • Repeat actions out of fear that something bad could happen
  • Complain about stomachaches or headaches with no known cause

In older children and adolescents, having multiple of these symptoms may be a sign that your child could benefit from treatment:

  • Low energy
  • Losing interest in things they once enjoyed
  • Engage in risky or destructive behavior
  • Require much less sleep than usual due to highly elevated energy and activity
  • Smoke, drink or use drugs
  • Frequent nightmares, sleeping too much or too little or being sleepy throughout the day
  • Diet or exercise excessively, or fear to gain weight
  • Engage in self-harm
  • Have thoughts of suicide
  • Say that they hear things other people can’t hear or that they think someone is trying to control their mind

For parents who believe that their child may need treatment for mental health, the first step is to talk with professionals and other people who interact with your child. Talk with your child’s teacher and learn what their behavior is like in school. Teachers are perhaps the only people who spend as much time with your child as you do, and they can give valuable insight into how they behave in a social classroom environment.

If you believe that your child needs a mental health professional, it’s time to search for a good one for your child. Finding the right mental health professional for your child can be daunting, and it can take time. Searching for a suitable therapist, for example, can be very difficult. Therapy depends on the patient being able to and comfortable with communicating their problems and feelings to the professional. The therapist will need to be able to work with your child, and your child will have to like the therapist enough to be willing to work with him/her. Distance constraints can also be an issue since in smaller towns and countryside areas there are more limited options for therapy.

If you are seeking help for your child, BetterHelp.com could be a good starting point. BetterHelp has more than 3,000 licensed therapists. Chances are, one of them will suit your child’s needs. BetterHelp is online, so the child will be able to communicate with his/her therapist from the comfort of home. Since it’s all online, there will be no distance constraints to keep your child from finding the perfect therapist for him/her.

It’s difficult to know when it’s time to seek help for your child. Hopefully, this has helped you to know and you’ll be able to find a therapist to help.

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Marie Miguel

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