Back-to-school season has rolled around for students across the nation. While parents are packing their bags and sending them off, make sure to prioritize what really matters- their mental health. 

Over the past two years, researchers have watched a growing percentage of mental health illnesses in children. According to Mental Health America, over 2.5 million youth in America live with major depression. If you want to educate yourself on the symptoms your child may show or how to stay proactive, read on.

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Mental Health Warning Signs

Let’s discuss the terms: mental health encompasses emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental disorder is a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior. It is important to be conscious of what terms you are using to discuss these matters with your children. The most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children are ADHD, anxiety, and depression. 

  • ADHD: Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity disorder

According to Healthline, symptoms in teenagers can include trouble focusing, trouble finishing tasks, organizing and multi-tasking difficulties, forgetfulness, increased frustration or trouble navigating relationships. Oftentimes this mental disorder can be mistaken for immaturity, and it is important to talk to your doctor if you believe your child may be suffering ADHD symptoms. 

  • Anxiety:

Anxiety is a disorder that deals with excess fear and worrying, and there are many different types. According to Newport Academy, behavioral signs that may indicate your child is experiencing anxiety include, loss of interest, negative self-talk, trouble sleeping, disordered eating, substance abuse or avoiding people and places. Communicating with your child about the symptoms of anxiety is a great place to start if you are worried they may struggle with anxiety.

  • Depression:

Depression is an illness that creates a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It has the power to completely change one’s personality. The Mayo Clinic reported that signs of depression may include loss of energy, insomnia, appetite change, restlessness, isolation, angry out-bursts, or self-harm. Similar to anxiety, it is important to ask how your child feels because symptoms of depression may affect their emotions greatly. 

Signs of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress can be classified as mental suffering that results from a traumatic experience. Oftentimes it arises from a particular event, memory or pattern of events. Examples of emotional distress may include, but are not limited to, the following.

  • Guilt
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Feelings of hopelessness

How To Be Proactive

Mental health awareness is no joke, especially when dealing with our youth. The Covid-19 pandemic put a strain on socialization and education which inevitably led to a strain on mental health. Do not put your children’s mental health on the back burner, take action!

Have Uncomfortable Conversations.

Children who are suffering through symptoms of mental disorders are not as likely to open up and share their emotions. It may seem easier to brush things under the rug to keep the peace, however, it is much better to get on the same page so that you can work together rather than your child fighting alone. Try to focus on your end goal rather than avoiding tense moments.

Let Them Be Honest.

For many teenagers, this could be the first time they are experiencing feelings like these. Your child may be confused and scared, so it is important to listen to what they’re saying before you speak. Try to remain as open as possible while using empathy to relate. 

Seek Medical Advice.

It’s okay to not have the answers to everything! There are options on how to handle mental disorders. Seeking advice from your doctor or a therapist can lead you and your child on the right path.