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Eight red flag signs your child is struggling with mental health

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Eight red flag signs your child is struggling with mental health

Recent NHS data shows that 18% of children aged seven to 16 years and more than a fifth of people aged 17 to 24 years had a probable mental disorder. Dr Katy James, mental health clinical director at UK healthcare provider, Vita Health Group , has created a guide for parents which includes the common warning signs a child or young person may be struggling with their mental health, and advice on how to help a child open-up.

Dr James said: “It can be difficult to spot when a child needs support with mental health issues. And it can be tricky for young people to speak out about the challenges they’re facing and so it’s really important that parents, caregivers and family members are able to recognise the signs that a child or young person may be struggling with their mental health, and they know ways to help them talk.”

Common warning signs of mental health issues in children and young people:

  • Withdrawal – no longer doing the things they used to enjoy

  • Significant changes in behaviour and mood

  • Self-harming

  • Changes to sleeping patterns

  • Unexplained physical changes such as weight loss or weight gain

  • Sudden, negative change in academic performance

  • Isolation and withdrawal from social situations

  • Refusal to attend school.

“Talking isn’t always easy, but giving children and young people the space and opportunity to open up is one of the most helpful things we can do to support their wellbeing,” said Dr James.

“It’s sometimes helpful for children and young people to talk whilst they are doing an activity. This can take the pressure off the child needing to make eye contact and makes the conversation feel much more natural and relaxed.”

Dr. James suggests that it could be helpful to try the following activities:

  • Cooking or baking

  • Playing football

  • Going for a walk

  • Being creative – drawing, painting or arts and crafts

  • Going for a drive together.

If you’re trying to discuss a tricky subject with a child or young person, Dr James suggests parents and caregivers follow these five general principles:

  1. Help them to feel safe and comfortable

  2. Show that you’re listening and hearing what they’re saying

  3. Allow them to set their own pace and be patient

  4. Avoid displaying strong emotions and stay neutral

  5. Stick to facts – it’s okay if you don’t know the answer, be honest.

Dr James said: “When children and young people are struggling, it’s important they understand that they are not alone. If you think your child is showing signs that they are struggling with their mental health, contact your GP for support. They may recommend a referral to another service for assessment or support to help your child manage this. It could also be beneficial to reach out to your child’s school as they can often make referrals into mental health support services available to them via education networks and local authorities.”

Online support services available

There are a number of online support services available for parents and carers, including:

MindEd – MindEd is a free learning resource about the mental health of children, young people and older adults www.mindedforfamilies.org.uk

Action for Children – Parent Talk is Action for Children’s online advice hub. Browse expert articles on common parenting questions – from potty training to emotional wellbeing. Or use its live chat to connect directly to a qualified parenting coach. It’s all free, and no topic is too big, small, or embarrassing www.actionforchildren.org.uk

Anna Freud – Anna Freud is a mental health charity for children and families. The charity offers advice and guidance for parents and carers to help them support a child or young person experiencing poor mental health or wellbeing www.annafreud.org

This post was syndicated via RSS Feeds provided by Bristol Live. Visit the original source article here: http://bristolpost.co.uk/

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