5 Ways To Recognise Mental Health Issues In Your Child

5 Ways To Recognise Mental Health Issues In Your Child

The recently released Productivity Commission Draft Report on Mental Health says that change is needed not only in the health system itself but in schools, workplaces, housing and the justice system.

The report includes a comprehensive set of reforms to reorient the mental health system to close service gaps, better target services to meet needs and focus on early intervention and prevention.

“While full scale change will take a long time, there are many changes that governments can start now. For example, follow-up after attempted suicide is proven to save lives and could be started immediately,” Chair Michael Brennan said.

The Commission recommends better support for students and teachers including appointing wellbeing leaders in all schools.

What do you do if you think your child has a mental illness?

If you suspect that your child has a mental health illness they may have difficulties in more than one of these five areas.

1. Behaviour

Externalising problems or ‘acting out’: disruptive, impulsive, angry or hyperactive behaviours. OR internalising problems or ‘holding in’: inhibited or over-controlled behaviours, including withdrawal, worry, and emotional responses that primarily affect the individual child and not others around them.

2. Emotions

Children with emotional difficulties may have trouble expressing or managing their feelings.

3. Thoughts

A child may experience negative thoughts about themselves or what is happening around them, which stops them from interacting with others or getting involved in experiences.

4. Learning

Refers to how well a child is able to take in, understand and remember information. It also relates to how well they can communicate and interact with others, and use their physical skills (for example, crawling, walking or drawing).

5. Social relationships

An inability to understand and interpret social cues.

So when should I get help?

• If it happens on a regular basis.

• Persists over a period of time (e.g. a month or longer).

• Becomes distressing to the child and those around them.

• Are across situations (e.g. at home and at childcare).

Who to go to for help?

• GP or paediatrician – An excellent first port of call, they can investigate any physical/medical reasons for the behaviour and also provide referrals to other health professionals who can help.

• The Medicare rebate is now available for psychological services (a referral from a GP, paediatrician or psychiatrist is required).

If you need specific help or advice, you can contact one of the services below:

There’s also:

• SANE Australia

• Raising Children Network

• KidsMatter Australian Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative

• Women’s and Children’s Health Network

Words by Anna Gibson

Guest Contributor