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Understanding Mental health in Children and Teens

August 27,2017 By: Mansi poddar

 

download (3)At Mansitherapy, we often come across hassled parents, complaining about how their kid is unmanageable, disobedient or is behaving weirdly. We usually explain to them how children and teens function and further help them identify, understand and manage the underlying issue.

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One very important thing to understand while dealing with kids and teenagers is: The behaviour is not the problem, it is the manifestation of the problem.

 

 

For example, getting a new brother or sister or going to a new school may cause a child to temporarily act out. Warning signs that it might be a more serious problem requiring professional help include:

  • Problems in more than one setting or environment (at school, at home, with peers)
  • Changes in food habits or sleep patterns
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
  • Social withdrawal or fear of things he or she did not use to be not afraid of
  • Returning to behaviours more common in younger children, such as bedwetting
  • Signs of being upset for a very long time, such as prolonged sadness or tearfulness
  • Signs of self-destructive behaviours, such as head-banging or suddenly getting hurt often
  • Repeated thoughts of death
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Frequent temper tantrums or anger outbursts
  • Defiance and/or substance abuse in teenagers

 

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When children experience emotions or engage in behaviours that interfere with their happiness and ability to thrive, they may benefit from meeting with a mental health professional.

 

 

images (6)A child psychologist works with children who might have varying levels of mental, emotional, or social problems. They help children cope with stresses like divorce, death, and family or school transitions, accepting a new sibling into their life, anxiety, academic difficulties, social awkwardness, behavioural issues, depression, etc.

 

Parents and children often attend therapy sessions together, as therapy can be a safe space in which to address the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that they may be experiencing.

 

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The problems that affect children are often treated differently than adults as they have different needs, so the techniques used in therapy must accommodate these. For example, children are easily bored, making the use of traditional therapy options somewhat difficult, so a child psychologist must make interactions fun and entertaining whenever possible, sometimes using games and toys.

 

 

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Children and adolescents may feel uncomfortable, afraid, or ashamed about communicating what they are experiencing to an adult they do not know. If you are a parent, these tips can help when talking to your child about therapy and mental health care:

 

  • Find a good time to talk and assure them that they are not in trouble.
  • Listen actively.
  • Take your child’s concerns, experiences, and emotions seriously.
  • Try to be open, authentic, and relaxed.
  • Talk about how common the issues they are experiencing may be.
  • Explain that the role of a therapist is to provide help and support.
  • Let them know that therapy is a safe space to share details privately, while maintaining confidentiality, at the same time acknowledging that you will be alerted if there are any threats to their safety.
  • Set a good example of taking care of your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Children learn what they see.

There is a myriad of factors that can impact a child’s mental health status, both positively and negatively. Providing your child with an environment that demonstrates love, compassion, trust, and understanding will greatly impact their well-being and will allow them to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

If you feel your child or teen may be having any emotional or behavioural difficulties feel free to contact a mental health professional. We, at Mansitherapy, have recently expanded our practice to include more brilliant and competent psychologists who offer family, child and teen counselling, using a range of evidence-based therapeutic techniques, which are tailored to meet the unique requirements of every child and teen.