There’s no minimum age for experiencing a mental health condition.
Though mental health conditions are often not diagnosed until later in life, they can onset far before that time. For a breakdown of most common mental health conditions affecting youth and their accompanying signs, click here.
Adults can be a major factor in shaping a child's mental health.
A caring and consistent adult’s behavior can protect a child against experiencing poor mental health and development of severe symptoms in the long term.
A child’s mental health may be dismissed as a phase.
Beliefs that a child’s mental health or behavior is tied to their age rather than a more serious mental health problem can lead to lack of treatment and delay a young person's opportunity for recovery.
What do I Need to Know About Youth Mental Health?
Signs a Child or Teen
May Need More Support
If you notice these signs in your young person or a young person with whom you work,
it may be time to seek treatment or additional support.
How do I Talk to a Young Person?
First, make sure you start the conversation with the right tools.
It’s always the right time to ask how a child is feeling. However, when a child starts behaving in ways that aren't typical for them, including sudden or harmful changes, this conversation becomes more urgent. Some of these changes include:
• Using alcohol or drugs to get through tough experiences
• Binging or restricting eating in response to emotions
• Talking about death or an interest in suicide
• Self-harm including burning, scratching, cutting, pulling hair
• Purposely seeking out risks that put themselves in harm’s way
• Extremely low motivation, energy, and sadness
Guidelines for a conversation around a child's mental health.
Blame a child for their behavior or pass judgment on their behavior. This conversation opens with an accusation, which is hurtful and can make a child feel like they need to defend themselves.
Make sure that the child is open to a conversation and that you are using "I' statements to communicate objective observations. Lead with curiosity by using open-ended questions.
Wellness Strategies for You
Taking care of yourself and fostering your own wellness is an essential part of caring for others. Creating a wellness practice looks unique depending on who you are and what works best for you - here are some ideas to get you started: