MENTAL health disorders can not just affect adults, children and teenagers can suffer from them too.
In fact, the children are now at risk, with one in eight children suffering mental illness, according to the NHS.
The latest official statistics suggests that one in eight children aged between five and 19 live with a mental health issue, while around 113,000 toddlers in England have problems before they even start school.
They're not always easy to spot, either. With all children suffering a mental illness experiencing different symptoms.
Here are 9 signs that your child could have a mental health disorder.
1. Bad mood that will not go away
A child suffering mental health problems will begin to feel persistently down.
Emily Cherry, head of policy at Barnados UK, told The Sun Online that they might be really withdrawn from friends and family and isolating themselves.
"So if you have events coming up like birthdays, they might start to become really scared and do not want to engage," she said.
"They will be persistently low and unhappy – nothing will lift their mood."
2. Tearful or emotional outbursts
Another key sign to look for is anger and emotional outbursts.
These will be much bigger than the usual outburst a child might have when they are defying their parents.
"That kind of anger or outburst will stop them doing normal, everyday tasks," Emily added.
3. Lack of interest in fun things they used to love
Another sign is that they might lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy.
For example, if your child had a hobby, they suddenly stopped doing it and do not want to replace it with another activity.
4. Feeling tired all the time
If your child seems unable to relax or is more lethargic than usual, this could be a clue that something is not quite right.
According to the NHS, being irritable or grumpy all the time may also be a tell-tale sign.
5. Eating less or binge eating
Any sudden change in your child's eating habits could signal a mental health problem.
Some may even have physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches, the NHS said.
6. Trouble sleeping
Another really important sign to look for is if your child has problems sleeping.
"Children who are persistently low, who suffer from depression or anxiety, will find sleeping really difficult," said Cherry.
It may also be that they do not want to get out of bed, or sleep in for hours longer than usual.
7. Lack of concentration
If teachers at your child's school have noticed that they find it difficult to concentrate in class, this could be a red flag, too.
Not being able to make their mind up, or seemingly like they do not care about certain outcomes are signs that should not be taken lightly, either.
WHY IS MY CHILD SUFFERING A MENTAL ILLNESS?
Things that increase the risk of mental illness such as anxiety or depression in children include:
- family difficulties
- physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- a family history of depression or other mental health problems
- Sometimes it is triggered by a difficult event, such as separating parents, bereavement or problems with school or other children.
- It's often caused by a mixture of things. For example, your child may have inherited a tendency to depression and also experienced some difficult life events.
8. Low self-esteem
If your kid talks about feeling guilty or worthless, it might be a sign that they have lost their confidence, which could be linked to a mental illness.
The NHS describes it as "empty or unable to feel emotions" or "numb".
9. Having suicidal thoughts
Perhaps more than a direct clue, but if things get really bad, you may notice your child begins self-harming or cutting their skin.
"If a child gets to a crisis point, where they feel so low and angry, they can turn to self-harm and even have suicidal thoughts," explained Cherry.
You may not see the evidence of such an action right away, but you may notice that your child is covering up more or trying to hide their skin, which may be a sign of self-harming.
How to spot the signs of mental health problems in your child
While there are some key warning signs to look for, they can vary from child to child.
However, Cherry said the parents know their children and should be able to spot them easily.
"Parents are experts in their own children," she said.
HOW TO TALK YOUR CHILD ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
CREATING a safe and welcoming environment is an important part of addressing your child's mental health problems.
- set aside uninterrupted time with your child
- create a safe place for them to talk
- Let them know that you are always there for them
- Let them know that they can talk about anything they feel
- if they do not want to talk straight away do not push them
- use gentle language like "I've noticed you've been sad lately, I'm always here if you want to talk"
- Do not make an inquisition by asking a lot of questions like "why are you sad?" and "what is going on?"
- encourage them to speak to a friend or teacher if they do not feel comfortable talking to you
"Feeling down or anxious is often really normal for children and it can be quite worrying for parents to see that.
"But there is often a real tipping point for the parents when that anxiety, that feeling low and feeling sad starts to take over your child's life and that's when you need to seek help."
Every 90 minutes, someone kills himself in the UK – with suicide being the biggest killer of people under the age of 35.
Both of these are really alarming statistics, which is why The Sun has launched the You're Not Alone campaign, in order to get more people talking about mental health.
Some studies show that almost one in four young people will experience depression before they are 19 years old.
Alana Ryan, Senior Policy Officer at the NSPCC, said: "When a generation of children struggles with their mental health with many self-harmed or attempted suicides, we are fundamentally failing our young people.
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"Our own research shows even if children are referred for a specialist mental health treatment there is a slim chance they will receive it, which is totally unacceptable."
It's important to get help early if you think your child may have a mental disorder or is depressed.
The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to disrupt your child's life and turn into a long-term problem.
WHERE TO GET HELP
If you, or anyone else, need assistance in dealing with mental health problems, the following organizations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritan, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- YoungMinds, www.youngminds.org.uk, 0808 802 5544
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