When you think about the children in your life you may not necessarily think about their mental health, especially young children ages 5-12, but it is important to be mindful of their mental health as it affects all ages.
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.
It can be difficult to diagnose 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.
A few 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
- Expressing thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide
Our Treatment Program
University Behavioral Center’s treatment is highly individualized with tailored treatment to each child’s strengths, interests and goals, as well as their current symptoms and struggles. Treatment involves helping children understand their diagnosis, stabilize their medication and help them learn coping skills that work for them as an individual.
UBC’s treatment is based around three main group therapy sessions a day with peers of the same age group. Along with group therapy children will be trained in life skills, coping mechanisms and offered recreational and music therapy. Some of the different modalities of therapy at UBC include art, group, individual and trauma-focused techniques.
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.
Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health | CDC
Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Children | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
If a young child is struggling with the above areas, it may be time for a mental health assessment. University Behavioral Center is open 24/7 and offers no-cost and confidential assessments for ages 5 and older. UBC offers inpatient mental health care to stabilize those in crisis and set up an aftercare plan to maintain their mental health after discharge. If a loved one is struggling with mental health we are just a phone call away, 407-281-7000.