5 Warning Signs of Common Mental Health Disorders in Kids

Daily several incidents of child abuse and familial disputes are heard from all over the world. The incident might last for a while but it leaves behind its traumatizing effect on the victims and the witnesses. The children and the young adults are among the top ones who have to face the brutal outcomes of such incidents and live their lives under the shadow of fear and threat. This is what instills a state of anxiety and bewilderment in the children and leads them towards the development of mental illness.

Mental health has been a hot topic for the past many years and a lot of light has been shed on different aspects, risk factors, affected age groups, and prevention tips. Still, the triggering factors of the mental illness in children are unexplored. Mental illness in a child is shown in different forms. From children scratching their arms, using razors on their skin to labored breathing and attempt to stop breathing; everything has been seen and witnessed. Here, we have taken the initiative of discussing the triggering factors in details to understand how and why these things affect the mental health.

A child’s mental health is defined as the complete well-being and optimal development of a child in social, behavioral, emotional and cognitive domains. Any shift or unbalance in any of these domains makes the child’s mental health questionable. According to the researchers from Harvard Medical School, more than fifty percent of the cases of mental disorders begin at the age of fourteen and three-fourths by the age of 24 [1]. In order to decrease this number, we need to understand the reason for the development of mental illness in a child.

Common mental health issues in the children

Before we jump onto the reasons, let’s first find out the most commonly inflicted mental health issues among the children. The child’s brain is more prone to anxiety attacks and depression. The other mental health issues they face include eating disorders, conduct and behavior issues, and the attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. These disorders are picked by noticing a change in the kid’s concentration level, sleeping schedule, complaints of physical ailments, inability to deal with routine problems, and frequent outbursts of anger and crying spells.

We were able to pinpoint the five unusually obvious triggering factors for the mental health changes in the children and they are as follows:

5 unusual mental illness triggering factors

1. Dysfunctional families

The number one mental illness triggering factor among the children is the situation they see in their homes. From the family fights to living with divorced/ separated parents, living with parents with mental illness or drinking problem, looking after your younger ones because your parents are incapable of doing so, and living in a poor condition or being homeless; all these situations put the child under pressure and slowly makes him lose his mind.

According to the research, from the age of two years old the children observe their parent’s behavior quite keenly. This is the time when they start receiving and interpreting different signals from their parent’s relationship. Another UK and internationally conducted research suggest that children who are exposed to conflicts experience increased stress hormonal responses and increased heart rates [2]. Such children also show signs of sleep disturbances, anxiety, conduct disorder and chronic inter-parental conflict. These situations are the triggering factors that result in the development of mental health in an individual.

2. Traumatic events and adjustment issues

The second most common triggering factor for the mental illness among children is the events they experience throughout their lives. Some children are severely bullied physically or emotionally that they become isolated. One such example is of an overweight boy who is teased about his weight. The boy starts feeling depressed, is socially withdrawn and is reluctant to participate in activities with others. This leads to poor physical health and thus poor mental growth. Same goes for the sexually abused children. Their confidence is shattered and with almost no support from the world outside, they create a barrier between themselves and the world. Other traumatic events like the death of a close relative/ friend or the incident of experiencing discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sexuality sometimes turn the mental illness path on among the children.

3. Unattended mood swings

The mood swings in the young generation, which are often carelessly ignored by the guardians, must be taken seriously. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) writes, “The major mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia do not occur ‘out of the blue’. Parents should go with their intuition when they observe that something is not right with their kids” [3]. Another report by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says, “Around one-third of the 3.4 million children and teens diagnosed with depression are actually experiencing the early onset of the bipolar disorder” [4]. This indicates that these serious diseases can be avoided if proper attention is paid to the child at the right time. Thus, the next time you observe a grave change in your child’s behavior, make sure you evaluate it before ignoring it.

4. Learning disabilities

The world is a competitive stage where people fight to survive and leave behind the weak ones. In such a competitive environment, not every child is able to face the competition. Some of them fall while others fail to run in the race. Most of these children are those suffering from some kind of learning disabilities. Such children are more susceptible to developing mental health issues earlier in their life than others.

5. Long-term physical illness

The physically or mentally handicapped children face a lot of trouble and deal with critical situations everyday. The illness has already taken their happiness away and they are prone to depression and anxiety attacks. To rehabilitate such children and offer them good living conditions can help reduce the rate of mental illness among them.


The number one step to avoid mental illness is to catch it from the beginning which is mostly when the child is in his growing age. Constant supervision of your child’s activities is required to ensure that you are fostering a healthy environment for him to live in.


[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/the-prevalence-and-treatment-of-mental-illness-today

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/education-43486641

[3] https://www.medicaldaily.com/5-warning-signs-common-mental-health-disorders-kids-246069

[4] http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/bipolar-disorder-children

Image sources: fgcnow.org, worldofmoms.com

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