Possible red flags in your child’s mental health

The following list contains some signs that may indicate that your child may have an emotional, behavioral or mental health problem that needs professional attention:

  • Ongoing behavior problems at daycare, school, home or in the community
  • Hyperactivity or constant movement beyond regular playing
  • Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrums
  • Unusual fears or worries
  • Difficulty taking part in activities that are normal for your child’s age
  • Difficulties with concentration, attention, or organization
  • Withdrawal from friends or activities they used to enjoy
  • Strange or unusual thoughts, beliefs, feelings or behaviors
  • Getting ‘stuck’ on certain thoughts, activities or actions
  • Ongoing lack of energy even when rested
  • Difficulty in going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up
  • Sudden outbursts or explosive emotional reactions
  • Prolonged negative mood and attitude
  • Frequent physical complaints with no apparent cause
  • Inability to cope with problems
  • Inappropriate or unusual reactions to others
  • Sad and hopeless feelings without good reason, that don’t go away
  • Avoiding friends or family and wanting to be alone all of the time
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not real
  • Significant changes in behavior over a short period of time
  • Eating problems including eating too much or too little
  • Violence towards oneself, others, animals or property
  • Refusal to go to school on a regular basis
  • Ongoing decline in school performance
  • Deliberate disobedience or aggression
  • Inability to complete tasks on an ongoing basis
  • Opposition to authority figures and little or no remorse for breaking rules
  • Extreme perfectionism
  • Cutting or other self-injury
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Extreme mood swings with no apparent cause
  • Speaking so rapidly that they are difficult to understand or interrupt
  • Unable to get along with others in most situations
  • Worries about everything, even minor things on an ongoing basis
  • Becomes easily bored or angered
  • Isolation, loneliness, and a lack of friends
  • Risky or dangerous behavior including: sexually acting out, recklessness, running away, setting fires
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Abuse of alcohol, and/or drugs or heavy tobacco use
  • Frequent outbursts of anger or inability to cope with problems
  • Obsession with weight, constant dieting, purging food or vomiting
  • Self-injury, talk of suicide or actual violence. **Important!  If your child talks of suicide, or hurts themselves or others intentionally, get immediate assistance and do not leave your child alone! 

This list is not exclusive, and sometimes the symptoms on this list can be brought on by major changes in a child’s life including illness, loss, death or divorce in the family, a change of school or a move to a new city or house, or the arrival of a new sibling.  At other times, these symptoms may have no apparent cause.

Some parents find it difficult to be sure if their child actually needs help and sometimes it’s even harder to accept that they may have an emotional, behavioral or mental health problem. One important thing to keep in mind is that mental health disorders are treatable and when young people are connected to the right treatment, services and supports they can go on and live happy and successful lives while managing their mental health symptoms.  So seek help if you think your child may need it! If you are still unsure and would like to chat about your concerns, you can send us an email: stiltinitiative@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *