Mental health issues can affect people of all ages. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), half of all lifelong mental health illnesses start by the age of 14 years old. Your pediatrician’s office is a good place to evaluate and start treatment for many mental health concerns, as well as refer to a specialist when needed. At well checks we may ask questions about mental health and have your child fill out surveys regarding their mental wellbeing. For teens, we take a few moments from every well check to speak privately with them, but open conversations should also be encouraged at home. Society often carries a stigma regarding mental health issues, so when starting these discussions it is important to remind your child of your love and support for them, no matter how they are feeling. Also, it may help to discuss that everyone struggles at times, but it is okay to seek help when they need it.
There are many signs that your child could be struggling with their mental health. A few of these signs may include feeling sad or irritated, changes in sleeping, avoiding activities due to anxiety, having uncontrolled negative thoughts, an altered appetite, spending more time alone, or struggling with school work and tasks. Experiencing hard days or difficult thoughts and emotions is not abnormal, but if these problems interfere with daily life or occur too frequently they can become very serious. If you or your child has any concerns, call us to set up an appointment with one of our providers. You may also visit the NAMI website to read more information on discussing mental health, looking for signs of problems, and resources for your child.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.) Mental Health Awareness Month. https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month
Shahidullah, J. & Baum, R. (2022, November 18). How to Talk About Mental Health With Your Child and Their Pediatrician. Healthy Children.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Pages/How-to-Talk-with-Your-Child-and-Their-Pediatrician-About-Mental-Health-Concerns.aspx