Mental Health Issues in Young Kids on the Rise

Why the rise in mental health issues in younger children? Speculation says that the culprits are many. Some cite both parents working outside the home. Others note how younger children take things more seriously if something doesn’t go well. They lack more developed coping skills which can lead to depression and aggressive behavior. Some say that technology may even play a role, since children aren’t always learning the necessary social and emotional cues through human interaction that would aid them in their world.

We are seeing children, even younger and younger children, needing mental health services,” says Susan Perkins-Parks, director of the behavior management clinic at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. “We get referrals from day care centers and preschool programs where people aren’t able to manage those kids.

Young Girl looking into distanceA local county’s Community Health Needs Assessment found that public mental health services for children ages 6 to 12 increased almost 15% in two years (2012-2014). This does not take into account the use of private services, but one can extrapolate that this indicates a trend prevalent in most area counties in Maryland and beyond. Children are feeling the same pressures as the adults around them, but have fewer coping skills. This can result in an increase in acting-out behaviors and depression. The number of kids battling mental health issues is definitely on the rise.

When a focused child suddenly refuses to do homework; when stress levels in the family or pressure at school are outpacing a child’s ability to cope; when a routinely non-violent child begins to act aggressively; when a child spends more and more time alone and withdrawn, is agitated, argumentative, or has trouble falling asleep–all these may be signs that the child is in need of mental health services. Parents can’t always cope alone. According to experts, early screening and prompt intervention work the best. Good resources include starting with your child’s pediatrician or school guidance counselor, or seeking a referral to a mental health professional whose specialty is younger children.

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Source:  Eatough, A. (2016, August 08). Children's Health Tips and News: Young kids battling mental health issues are on the rise. Chesapeake Family.
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