When you think about the children in your life, you may not necessarily think about their mental health — especially when it comes to young children ages 5-12. However, it is important to be mindful of their mental health as it affects all ages.

Mental Health in Young Children

Trauma is very real and difficult to deal with, especially in young children who may not even understand what they are feeling. 1 in 6 U.S. children ages 2-8 have a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder.

The most diagnosed mental health disorders in children are ADHD, anxiety and depression. 9.8% of children ages 3-17 are diagnosed with ADHD, 9.4% are diagnosed with anxiety and 4.4% are diagnosed with depression and these numbers rise over time.

Mental Health Signs and Symptoms in Children

It can be difficult to diagnose mental health issues in early childhood compared to adulthood due to the differences in how children respond to and process emotional experiences and traumatic events. Some ways you can help and support struggling young children is to know the signs of declining mental health and when and how to get help. Some common signs of declining mental health in young children include, but are not limited to:

  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Fights with loved ones
  • Mood Swings
  • Lack of Communication
  • New fear of things
  • Isolation
  • Expressing thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide

How Can You Help Your Child

Some ways parents can support their child’s mental health is by encouraging them to get involved with coping skills and/or activities they are passionate about. The most important thing to remember is every child has unique coping skills that will work for them. Yoga may be great for some children to center themselves, but others may find peace in playing a musical instrument, being active or creating art.

Find out what your child is interested in and encourage them to follow that passion. One of the best ways you can support your child’s mental health is allowing them to express themselves.

How We Can Help Your Child

If a young child is struggling with the above areas, it may be time for a mental health assessment. La Amistad Behavioral Health Services offers treatment programs for children as young as twelve and offers free and confidential assessments. If a loved one is struggling with mental health, we are just a phone call away at 407-647-0660.

Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health | CDC

Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Children | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Early Childhood Mental Health (harvard.edu)