How Do You Know if Your Child Has Mental Health Issues? [SERIES]
This is the second part of a week-long series titled "NJ Children Confronting Mental Illness." Today we look at the most common problems, and what parents need to do to address them.
A growing number of children in New Jersey and across the country are facing mental health issues.
"Anxiety is the most common type of mental illness, and depression I believe is a close second, but other types are like personality disorders, and bipolar disorder, which might be over-diagnosed from what I hear," says the Associate Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Shauna Moses.
Debra Wentz, the Chief Executive Officer of the NJAMHAA, says if your child's behavior continues to change, it could signal a problem.
"They might not feel secure, they might not leave the house, eating patterns might change," she says. "They may become very clingy, they may experience depression and lose interest in normal activities. Their school grades may drop, or they may start associating with a different group of children or they might withdraw and isolate."
"The good news is if they're identified early they can be treated, they can even be prevented with more education and awareness."
Moses points out mental health issues also cover such conditions as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and post traumatic stress.
"If someone's family was greatly horribly affected by Hurricane Sandy, that can have a long term effect, if someone's in a car accident, loses a family member, anything like that."
Wentz says there is one piece of good news.
"If people are identified early they can be treated, they can even be prevented with more education and awareness. With depression, treatment is about 85 percent effective, which is much higher than other diseases like cancer or diabetes. The earlier that someone gets treatment, the more likely it is they're going to have a good outcome."