Child and Adolescent Mental Health Statistics
In a recent survey of child and adolescent mental health issues in Australia, it was found that about 1 in 7 children aged 4-17 years old had a mental disorder in the previous 12 months. That is 560,000 children and adolescents. The most common issues were ADHD, Anxiety and Depressive Disorders. About 1 in 10 children aged 12 – 17 years had ever self-harmed, and 1 in 13 of the same age bracket had seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months. Children reported that the most aggravating issues for them were bullying, problems with their eating and weight concerns, smoking and substance use and internet use and gaming.
When to get help
These developmental years are important for seeking help as these are the years identity is formed, social networks are impacted and academic foundations are built. Seeking early intervention leads to much better outcomes. How do you know when to seek help?
The general rule of thumb is if your child or adolescent is going through a period of time of a few weeks where they are showing general signs of not coping, which cannot be alleviated by previous coping strategies, such as:
- Having more days feeling sad, anxious, angry and/or afraid
- Their eating and sleeping patterns are impacted much more than usual
- School performance and attendance is significantly deteriorating
- They are finding it difficult to concentrate not only at school but also in carrying out daily activities
- Avoiding playing with friends or activities and games they would usually find great pleasure in
- Young children who previously had by-passed bed-wetting, thumb sucking return to these behaviours
- Physical complaints – nausea, headaches, pains in their body
- For adolescents – use of substances, getting in trouble, and unusual pre-occupation with weight and eating, withdrawal and wanting to spend more and more time alone
- In young children – emotionally not coping and may want to be with parents more than usual
If your child is showing these signs, a visit to the family doctor is the first step. From there, the doctor can discern if there is anything medical going on. If it looks like a mental health issue, a referral to a mental health professional can be made.
Valerie Ling, MClin Psych, BA(Hons), MAPS, Clinical Psychologist has a passion for helping people find their voice and continue to write their life’s story. Committed to prevent burnout and empowering individuals to life an effective life, she is the Director and Founder of The Centre For Effective Living.