Child Mental Health Resources
Young people can have mental, emotional, and behavioral problems that are real, painful, and costly. These problems, often called "disorders," are sources of stress for children and their families, schools, and communities.
The number of young people and their families who are affected by mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders is significant. It is estimated that as many as one in five children and adolescents may have a mental health disorder that can be identified and require treatment.
Mental health disorders in children and adolescents are caused by biology, environment, or a combination of the two. Examples of biological factors are genetics, chemical imbalances in the body, and damage to the central nervous system, such as a head injury. Many environmental factors also can affect mental health, including exposure to violence, extreme stress, and the loss of an important person.
Families and communities, working together, can help children and adolescents with mental disorders. A broad range of services is often necessary to meet the needs of these young people and their families.
Below are descriptions of particular mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders that may occur during childhood and adolescence. All can have a serious impact on a child's overall health. Some disorders are more common than others, and conditions range from mild to severe. Often, a child has more than one disorder.
This list of disorders must not be used for the purpose of making a diagnosis. It is to be used only as a reference about behavior encountered in the classroom.
All children feel anxious at times. Many feel stress, for example, when separated from parents; others fear the dark. Some though suffer enough to interfere with their daily activities. Anxious students may lose friends and be left out of social activities. Because they are quiet and compliant, the signs are often missed. They commonly experience academic failure and low self-esteem.
As many as 1 in 10 young people suffer from an AD. About 50% with AD also have a second AD or other behavioral disorder (e.g. depression). Adolescent girls are more affected than boys. Etiology is unknown (biological or environmental) but studies suggest that young people are at greater risk if their parents experienced AD. The most common anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized: extreme, unrealistic worry unrelated to recent events. They are often self-conscious and tense; they may suffer from aches and pains that appear to have no physical basis.
- Phobias: unrealistic and excessive fears. Specific phobias center on animals, storms, or situations such as being in an enclosed space.
- Panic Disorder: repeated attacks of intense fear w/o apparent cause. They may be accompanied by pounding heartbeat, nausea or a feeling of imminent death. Some may go to great lengths to avoid the attacks (such as refusing to attend school).
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: being trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors. These may include hand washing, counting, or arranging and rearranging objects.
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