“I’m not doing as well in school as I used to.”
“Sometimes I don’t feel like doing things I used to enjoy, like playing with my friends.”
“I can’t focus and I worry about things a lot…”
It’s easy to tell when your child needs help dealing with a fever or a broken bone, but mental health problems can be much harder to identify. The tricky part of parenting is recognizing the kinds of behaviors and moods that are typical for the stage of development your child is in – and being able to identify when your child needs help.
While 1 in 5 children experience a mental health disorder each year, only 20% are actually identified and treated. For some children, the normal stresses of life can be so overwhelming that they interfere with everyday life. A few of the symptoms include:
- Having difficulty at home, in school, interpersonally, or within the family
- Having difficulties which affect his/her ability to eat or sleep
- Having a hard time in situations where they used to be okay
- Experiencing problems significant enough that they are causing distress
In recognition of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Maryland, we encourage you to visit childrensmentalhealthmatters.org to learn more, including:
- How to tell if your child might need help
- What to do if your child does need help
- Where to go for help
- How to access free children’s mental health resources
As part of this week’s awareness activities, we asked children and youth with mental health needs to use art to share a message with others in our community.
From Yasmeine, “The challenges I have been faced with have helped me become the young lady I am today. Despite what people might say, love the inner you.”
From Edgar, “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of…”
From Cathy, “I choose my quote, ‘I choose to be happy today,’ because I find that with mental illness every day is a choice.”
From Alycia, “No matter what your disability, you are who you are — you are unique. You shine bright like a star and explode like a firework — full of color.”
Beth Hess is the director of social marketing and outreach for the Maryland Coalition of Families. Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is celebrated May 1-7. With more than 250 partners and schools across the state, the campaign goal is to raise awareness of the importance of children’s mental health, and to connect parents and community members with resources.