BY: Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee (MBBS; MD; MIPS; MIAPP)
Mental health is an important term to describe the emotional and psychological well-being of a person. Just like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, including childhood. The foundation for a child’s mental health is laid during the first few years of life.
Mental health is an important factor in a child’s life, yet it is often overlooked. Many factors can affect a child’s mental health, including family dynamics, social environment, and exposure to violence. Parents and mental health professionals need to be aware of these factors so that they can provide the necessary support for children who are struggling.
Factors affecting a Child’s Mental Health Condition
During childhood, several things can impact a child’s mental health. These can include genetic factors (family history of mental illness), environmental factors (exposure to trauma or abuse), and stress (from schools or family issues). It’s important to note that not all children who experience these factors will go on to develop mental health issues. However, these factors can increase a child’s risk.
It’s no secret that children can be resilient. They have an amazing capacity to bounce back from difficulties and setbacks. However, some risk factors can have a serious impact on a child’s mental health. Let’s take a look at the five major factors that can affect a child’s mental health, how each factor can impact a child’s development, and ways to help children thrive despite these factors:
1. Family history of mental illness: If there is a family history of mental illness, a child is more likely to develop mental health problems. This is due to both genetic and environmental factors.
2. School Eenvironment: Elementary school children face problems like academic performance or getting on track with the school routine.
2. Exposure to trauma: Children who have experienced traumatic events are more likely to develop mental health problems. Traumatic events can include abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, sexual abuse, or losing a loved one.
3. Brain chemistry: Mental health problems can be caused by imbalances in the brain chemicals that help regulate mood and behaviour.
4. Life stressors: Things like poverty, bullying, or divorce can lead to mental health problems in children.
5. Parenting style: The way parents interact with their children can impact their mental health. For example, if parents are overly critical or authoritarian, their children are more likely to develop mental health problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders in Children
The signs and symptoms of mental health disorders in children can vary depending on the specific disorder. However, some general red flags may indicate a problem. These include:
- Changes in mood or behaviour
- Sleep problems
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme reactions
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your child, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s doctor or a mental health professional for help.
Different Types of Mental Disorders in Children
Mental disorders can be broadly divided into two categories: psychiatric disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Psychiatric disorders are those that arise from a complex interaction of genetic, psychological, and social factors. The most common psychiatric disorders are anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and eating disorders.
Neurodevelopmental disorders, on the other hand, are typically caused by problems during fetal development or early childhood. These disorders can affect a child’s ability to think, learn, and communicate. Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are an example of neurodevelopmental disorders.
The good news is that mental health disorders in children are treatable. With early identification and intervention, many children can get the help they need to improve their symptoms and live happy productive lives.
The importance of early diagnosis and intervention for children with mental health issues
Early diagnosis and intervention are important for children with mental health issues. If left unchecked, mental health issues can have a profound impact on a child’s development, education, and relationships. Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available for children with mental health issues.
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor. This can be your child’s paediatrician or a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
At the appointment, the doctor will ask you and your child questions about your concerns and your child’s medical history. They may also conduct a physical exam to rule out any medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms.
If the doctor suspects that your child has a mental health disorder, they may refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation.
What Are the Treatment Options for Mental Health Disorders in Children?
The treatment options for mental health disorders in children will vary depending on the specific disorder. However, some general treatments can be used to help improve symptoms and promote healthy development. These include:
- Educational and behavioural interventions
- Alternative therapy
Childhood is an important time for laying the foundation of good mental health. Many risk factors can contribute to a child developing mental illness but early diagnosis and intervention are key to getting them the help they need to thrive.
When it comes to your child’s mental health, there are many resources available for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from professionals or organizations specializing in this area. You can start by talking to your child’s doctor or a mental health professional such as Mental Health Research Centre in Kolkata. You can also contact organizations such as the Mental Health Services Administration or National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for more information and support.
Mental Health Research Centre (MHRC) is a psychiatric clinic in Kolkata that has a qualified psychiatrist and psychologist. We do psycho-diagnostic tests for most types of mental conditions, including anxiety or depression. Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee is a Consultant Psychiatrist and de-addiction specialist, practicing in MHRC with over a decade of experience in the field of mental health. He has attended multiple national and international conferences on psychiatry & related topics besides delivering lectures & appearing on TV. His area of interests are schizophrenia, depression, suicidal patients, geriatric mental problems, and de-addiction. To book an appointment visit 164/A2 Prince Anwar Shah Road Lake Gardens City 700045 or call 9831 313 020.