How to spot if your child has mental health issues

Mental health issues strike most of us at some point in our lives. If you are a regular reader, you’ll know that we often mention student stress, anxiety and mindfulness as young people are now affected by it more than ever before.

Children go through a testing time through puberty as it is, so it can be hard sometimes for parents to tell the difference between typical teenage angst and something more serious. It can, therefore, help to spot the signs.

Anxiety … the telltale signs:

Anxiety is normal. However, clinical anxiety is when our children can’t seem to shake problems off. They might, for example, be:

  • Worrying every day
  • Have stomach problems/not sleeping
  • Restless and regular headaches
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Constantly offhand with everyone

How social anxiety reveals itself

Again, all of us get nervous sometimes ahead of a social gathering. However, social anxiety is different as it’s as if your child is living on a knife-edge where there’s little relief from worry.

  • Fear of not fitting in or having to interact with people
  • Acute self-consciousness in company
  • Escalating worry in lead up to a social event
  • Lots of last minute cancellations to avoid interactions
  • Physical signs might be blushing, avoiding eye contact, sweating
  • Guilt about letting people down, making denigratory comments about themselves

Is my child depressed?

Everyone feels sad at some point in their lives. Depression, though, is quite different. Look out for these symptoms:

  • Refusal to do the things they used to enjoy
  • Downward spiral in self-esteem
  • Sleeping and eating issues
  • Constantly tired
  • Falls out with friends
  • Lots of negative self-talk
  • Seems sad all the time

What do you do now?

First, can you identify a trigger? Did something at school trigger it? Sometimes a subject problem can escalate – or anxiety can be generated due to an undiagnosed learning problem or exam failure… One to one tuition can especially help unravel a problem, then help a child solve it.

Has it happened because of a family tragedy, divorce or death? Could body image or bullying be behind it? Children don’t always talk about or can explain their feelings. So it might be that you need to build some opportunities into their life to share what is happening.

Buy a journal to encourage them to write feelings down; get out of the house together Рperhaps just you and your child Рto encourage them to open up; get help and support yourself if you feel out of your depth. YoungMinds and The Mix are excellent sources of information.

Don’t forget…

…to chat to your GP too. There are medical conditions such as Bipolar Disorder, ADHD etc which might be behind it.

The important thing is to reach out… And to remember that a problem can be overcome. If our caring tutor team across Manchester and Cheshire can help with anxiety, or a subject specific problem, get in touch.

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