According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it can be tough to tell if troubling behavior in a child is just part of growing up or a problem that should be discussed with a health professional. But if there are behavioral signs and symptoms that last weeks or months, and if these issues interfere with the child’s daily life at home and at school, or with friends, you should contact a health professional.
Young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
Older children and adolescents may benefit from an evaluation if they:
Click here to take the Child Mind Institute’s Symptom Checker if you are worried about your child’s mental health.
Click here to learn more about observable behaviors that can be red flags.
Here’s an easy-to-remember mnemonic representing the warning signs of suicide:
S: Substance Abuse
M: Mood Changes
According to Penn State Health, one in five teenagers have depression at some point. Your teen may be depressed if they are feeling sad, blue, unhappy, or down in the dumps. Depression is a serious problem, even more so if these feelings have taken over your teen’s life.
Your teen is more at risk for depression if:
If your teen is depressed, you may see some of the following common symptoms of depression. If these symptoms last for 2 weeks or longer, talk to your teen’s doctor.
Notice changes in your teen’s daily routines that can be a sign of depression. Your teen’s daily routines can change when they are depressed. You may notice that your teen has:
Changes in your teen’s behavior may also be a sign of depression. They could be having problems at home or school:
Teens with depression may also have:
Complete the following assessment to see if you or someone you care about may have depression. When you’re taking the assessment, think about behaviors and moods from at least the past two weeks. The assessment is based on information from Mental Health America. Note: This assessment is not intended to be a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider.
According to Penn State Health, call a health care provider right away if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide. The person needs mental health care right away. DO NOT dismiss the person as just trying to get attention.
Avoiding alcohol and drugs (other than prescribed medicines) can reduce the risk of suicide.
In homes with children or teenagers:
In older adults, further investigate feelings of hopelessness, being a burden, and not belonging.
Many people who try to take their own life talk about it before making the attempt. Sometimes, just talking to someone who cares and who does not judge them is enough to reduce the risk of suicide.
However, if you are a friend, family member, or you know someone who you think may attempt suicide, never try to manage the problem on your own. Seek help. Visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s webpage for hotline services and resources.
Never ignore a suicide threat or attempted suicide.
Ways to Get Immediate Help in a Crisis