Monitoring the growth and development of a child is essential, and should encompass caring for physical, emotional and social development.
Mental health disorders are more common in children than parents often realise. Studies have shown that children with a psychiatric disorder are three times as likely to experience a mental health disorder in adulthood.
The signs of mental illness in children maybe mood changes, Intense worry, difficulty concentrating, poor school performance, persistent boredom, unexplained weight loss, frequent complaints of physical symptoms, sleep and/or appetite problems, nightmares, sleepwalking, regressive behaviour patterns e.g. bedwetting, tantrums, becoming clingy, risk-taking behaviour and/or showing less concern for their own safety, self-harm, and substance abuse.
Common Childhood Mental Health Disorders are Anxiety Disoorders, Depression, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Eating disorders.
If you’re concerned, take your child to a GP. Before you go, speak to your child’s teacher, friends and family to see if they’ve noticed any changes in their behaviour, which will be helpful information for the doctor. The doctor will establish the history of the problem, examine your child and work with you to determine the diagnosis. It’s important to seek advice as early as possible because early support and treatment produces better results for children, and more positive, long-term benefits.
Dr Sumi Soori MBBS, MRCGP, DRCOG is a Private General Practitioner at Roseneath Medical Practice in Richmond, who also has a strong interest in Paediatrics and Women’s health.