Child and Adolescent Problems

Mental health is an important part of overall health for children as well as adults. For many adults who have mental disorders, symptoms were present—but often not recognized or addressed—in childhood and youth. For a young person with symptoms of a mental disorder, the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it can be. Early treatment can help prevent more severe, lasting problems as a child grows up.

It can be tough to tell if troubling behavior in a child is just part of growing up or a problem that should be discussed with a health professional. But if there are signs and symptoms that last weeks or months; and if these issues interfere with the child’s daily life, not only at home but at school and with friends, you should contact a health professional.

Your child or teen might need help if he or she

Often feels anxious or worried

Has very frequent tantrums or is intensely irritable much of the time

Has frequent stomachaches or headaches with no physical explanation

Is in constant motion, can’t sit quietly for any length of time

Has trouble sleeping, including frequent nightmares

Loses interest in things he or she used to enjoy

Avoids spending time with friends

Has trouble doing well in school, or grades decline

Fears gaining weight; exercises, diets obsessively

Has low or no energy

Has spells of intense, inexhaustible activity

Harms herself/himself, such as cutting or burning her/his skin

Engages in risky, destructive behavior

Harms self or others

Smokes, drinks, or uses drugs

Has thoughts of suicide

Thinks his or her mind is controlled or out of control, hears voices