In today’s world, stress is unavoidable. Finding balance in our lives is a daily challenge. For people dealing with mental health issues, this challenge is more of a struggle. But Mercy Home for Boys & Girls is here to help kids and families recognize those struggles and get the help they need.
Mental illness comes in all shapes and forms. It can affect your friends, loved ones, even your neighbor. But you can do your part so they don’t struggle in private. Be aware, open, and honest when talking about mental health issues. Help end the stigma that often prevents many people from seeking help.
Remember, there is no shame in asking for help. Being aware means recognizing the symptoms of mental illness, especially when it comes to children. Warning signs may include:
- Talking about death or suicide
- Outbursts or extreme irritability
- Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful
- Drastic changes in mood, behavior or personality
- Loss of weight
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in academic performance
- Avoiding or missing school
Numerous mental health disorders can affect each child diferently, but these are the most common:
- Anxiety disorders: Persistent fears, worries or anxiety that disrupt a child’s ability to participate in play, school, or typical social situations. Diagnoses include social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
- Depression and other mood disorders: Persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest that disrupt a child's ability to function in school and interact with others. Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings between depression and extreme emotional or behavioral highs that may be risky or unsafe.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Children with ADHD have difficulty with attention, impulsive behaviors, hyperactivity or some combination of these problems.
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): ASD is neurological condition that appears in early childhood — usually before the age of three. Although the severity of ASD varies, a child with this disorder has difficulty communicating and interacting with others.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is prolonged emotional distress, anxiety, distressing memories, nightmares, and disruptive behaviors in response to violence, abuse, injury or other traumatic events.
- Eating disorders: Eating disorders generally develop alongside another mental disorder. Problematic eating behaviors can include anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating.
Children with untreated mental health disorders have a higher risk of developing other mental illnesses. If you have concerns about your child's mental health, consult your child's doctor. Describe the behaviors that concern you. Talk to your child's teacher, friends, relatives, or other caregivers to see if they've observed changes in your child's behavior.
Take action to prevent mental health issues from spiraling out of control. Be aware, open, and honest, but also hold yourself accountable.
Sign our pledge now and commit to doing what you can to be aware and seek care for mental illness. Challenge yourself to share times you've felt vulnerable. Assure people that seek counseling is "normal." Be careful with the words that you use when discussing mental illness, so you can make a difference in the lives of those you care about.