Recognizing Children’s Mental Health Status

With the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in school closures, canceled events, and canceled playtimes, it is extremely important to be aware of your child’s feelings and mental health. 

Children’s mental health problems are common and treatable when properly identified. 

When left untreated, mental health problems can disrupt children’s functioning at home, school, and in the community. Children with unaddressed mental health issues have an increased risk of school failure, contact with the criminal justice system, dependence on social services, and even suicide.

Signs That Your Child May Need Professional Help

The first people to notice if a child has problems with emotions or behavior are usually parents and family members. Observe your child, and ask teachers and other caregivers to be cognizant as well, to help determine whether you need to seek help for your child.

Possible indicators of a child’s need for professional help:

  • Changes in Sleeping Patterns
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Loss of Interest in Hobbies
  • Decline in school performance
  • Fatigue
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Constant worry or anxiety
  • Repeated refusal to go to school or to take part in normal activities
  • Hyperactivity or fidgeting
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Sadness or irritability

How to Get Professional Help for your Child’s Mental Health

At Tiger Pediatrics in Columbia, Boonville, & Moberly Missouri, children 11 years and older are given a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) during their yearly check-up. This 9-question survey gives physicians a way to identify potential mental health problems. It is one of the most validated tools in mental health and can be a powerful tool to assist clinicians with diagnosing depression and monitoring treatment response.

If further action is needed, we develop a plan tailored to your child’s specific needs. Sometimes the plan of action is simply implementing an exercise routine, and adjusting sleeping schedules. In other cases, medication may be the most effective option. We believe a multi-faceted approach will have the best outcome, so we often recommend a combination of exercise, medication, and counseling.  

If you are concerned that your child may have depression or anxiety, please don’t wait until their checkup to talk with your pediatrician about this. Give us a call at (573) 777-7627 and we will set up an office or virtual visit.