Thanks to a concerted effort to determine what kinds of mental issues affect children in the long term, there has been quite an uptick in public awareness regarding youngsters and how their life experiences can affect their psyche. Mental health screenings in school are becoming regular, and just the overall stigma that surrounded mental health discussions is becoming more and more positive and constructive.
It’s for good reason, too, as childhood mental health issues don’t only cause pain and trouble during childhood, but they can cause issues that last well into adulthood if untreated and undiscussed. Here is a look at why we all should encourage youth (and everyone) to take all the right steps in keeping good mental health, and a few ways to help out first-hand.
Mental Health Issues and Statistics
Because children are naturally more likely to experience mental and physical changes as they begin to grow, determining what is normal and what is unhealthy activity can be a bit of a challenge for doctors and other mental health professionals. It’s a difficult job, but one that needs to be done. Screenings at schools are a good start, but tend to be annual, or even less frequent than that. There are many issues that can happen during a child’s life that can create and contribute to many mental health problems. So, screenings are not a blanket solution, but certainly some help.
7.4% of children between 3-17 years old have a diagnosed behavior problem, with the most common being anxiety and depression. Oftentimes, a child with one of two diagnoses has the other as well. That number may actually seem small, as anxiety and depression seem to be so common. That’s because those two disorders become more common as people age, as they are often the result of traumatic issues, not wholly genetic, that go undiagnosed. From the ages of 13 to 18, the chance of a someone having anxiety or depression doubles to more than 15%.
Finding ways to ensure kids get diagnosed, and ultimately helped for their disorder is the first step in helping fix the issue, and encouraging young people you interact with to share any negative thoughts they have about themselves can be a simple and effective way to spark a discussion about possible depression. Sadness, anger over small things, irritability, a loss of interest in friends and school, and extreme sensitivity to failure (especially socially) are all signs of depression. Anxiety is generally a little easier to spot when severe enough to seek treatment, as individuals start sweating, trembling, and even breathing rapidly.
Share some of these statistics with your friends who have children, and continue to encourage dialog that alters the negative stigma of having a mental health disorder.
Untreated Issues and Society
Treating mental health issues in adolescents is truly a positive for society. Depressed kids often become depressed adults, and the longer the issues goes untreated, the better the chance the person has of causing harm to property, themselves, or someone else. Untreated mental illnesses also lead to drug and alcohol addiction, which is another societal issue, especially if driving gets involved. Continued treatment can keep people away from drugs and alcohol.
In addition to societal issues, untreated depression can cause many issues for the individuals far beyond sadness and negative thoughts. People with untreated depression have harder times making healthcare decisions, they lose sleep, and even things like heart attacks have been linked to depression and anxiety that has been allowed to run rampant.
Helping the Issue
For adolescents, raising awareness about the long-term affects of these issues can help encourage them to at least get assessed. Encouraging them to discuss their issues and not view any sort of sadness as a fault of their own, simply a trait they can help make better also helps identify these issues. Ultimately, though, it’s never too late for anyone to get help for their mental health issues. Don’t be scared. It’s okay to take care of yourself!
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.
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