The Warning Signs for Mental Illness in Children


Few parents can confidently state that they are prepared or able to spot mental health symptoms in their children. Though mental health issues are often looked upon as an adult affliction, they can also plague our younger counterparts in much the same way. This includes toddlers as well in some cases.

However, unlike adults these children are much less likely to receive treatment for mental health. Largely this is due to the expectation that they will ‘grow out’ of what troubles them. It is vital, then, that we learn to recognise signs of mental illness in children and treat them as a serious issue.

For many parents, the first step is understanding mental health in their children and recognising when there is a problem. Being knowledgeable and open to getting help is the best way forward for your child.


Knowing the Signs

So many parents struggle with understanding the signs of mental illness in their children. The symptoms are not always clear, not only that but often they are mistaken for a difficult child. Recognising that your child may be displaying factors which require medical aid can be a difficult thought to process. But, doing so can also help to prevent issues.

Common symptoms include:

  • Extreme hyperactivity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unusual sleep habits
  • Excessive fears
  • Increased worries
  • Hearing and seeing things that do not exist
  • Weight gain/loss (sudden or extreme)
  • Sudden change in school grades
  • Loss of multiple friends

This infographic from Lorimer Fostering also helps to identify a number of key symptoms.

Of course, this is in no way comprehensive and can differ vastly from child to child.


What To Do

You want to believe that your child is healthy and doing well, so accepting that they may be suffering from mental illness can be difficult – especially as most children keep such issues secret. Once you do knowing where to turn to for help can be even more challenging. Taking your child to see a medical professional could potentially show your fears as unwarranted, or unearth the issue that your child is facing in order to deal with it.

Not seeking help for your child can have a negative effect on the rest of your household, especially other children in the house. Support and understanding needs to be shown to these children as well as the child suffering, as it is bound to be confusing and upsetting to them. Gaining support from friends and family is always important to help both yourself and the rest of your household to cope with any issues.


Advice should always be sought in regards to children’s mental health. Doing so can help to prevent your child’s symptoms from escalating further and help you to manage. Don’t delay, act quickly and ensure your child receives the treatment and attention that they need.

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