How to spot mental health issues in a child

It is now widely accepted mental health problems are no longer something to be ignored, trivialized or stigmatized. They are an omnipresent aspect of modern life, with statistics confirming the ratio of adults experiencing issues to be around one in four. If the situation is so widespread for adults, it follows that children will also be susceptible. Given any child will be emotionally immature and less able to contextualize these feelings than their parents, children with mental health issues will have a detrimental effect on the whole family, parents to siblings to grandparents.

All children will have moments when they display what might be referred to as ‘temper tantrums,’ or just appear to be moody and introspective. But at what point should you suspect there could be deeper psychological factors at play? How do you spot mental health issues in one so young? And if you do suspect something is amiss, where can you go to seek help?


Try differentiating between mood swings and more permanent periods of negative behavior. One dead giveaway is a consistently lethargic voice. If this is coupled with withdrawing from their social circle/staying in their room for long periods/not listening to favorite playlists/abandoning computer games, or bursting into tears or losing their appetite, alarm bells should ring. How about sleep patterns? Insomnia or exhaustion are surefire indicators something is not right.  

How are they coping with school/college? Are they missing classes? Are they receiving consistently poor scores at tests? What about after-school activities – have they stopped attending clubs or participating in hobbies?

Withdrawing from things that used to give pleasure is something fairly obvious to focus on. Your first step should be to broach the subject with your child, not in any confrontational way, but by offering a sympathetic ear. Explain you are there to listen, not judge. Demanding they snap out of it would be your worst possible response. If need be, book an appointment with your GP.


The stresses and strains of modern life can impact every age group, from peer pressure and bullying to worrying about educational attainments. The older children get, relationship concerns are added to the mix of angst and wayward emotions. Obsessive and compulsive disorders and phobias can provoke anxiety. Panic attacks are a particularly acute manifestation.

Again, the solution is to instigate a proactive, two-way discussion with your child, and attempt to get them to open up about whatever is concerning them. You always have the option of seeking professional advice from your GP again, who may well refer you to child psychiatric specialists.

Whatever is troubling your child, try to get them to focus on the future, impressing the fact this is merely a short-term phase. It would be useful if you could try and get them to rationalize their negative feelings so they could place them in perspective whenever they arise. Discuss breathing techniques, exercise, or encourage them to accompany you to the park to spend time pitching a baseball around.

If you blog about stress or well-being issues yourself, it would be beneficial to the overall situation if you kept notes about symptoms and solutions offered. A few lines jotted down in a blog can quickly snowball, especially if you run a small business from home in conjunction with something like a TopOffers best affiliate marketing network. If you can discuss your experiences calmly and constructively, you will be in a positive enough frame of mind to not only help your own child, your web presence could reach out to others in a similar situation. Invite your contacts to share their own observations.