Health officials offer tips to help parents identify mental health concerns in children

There are about two and a half million children in Michigan, and health officials say an estimated 285-thousand of them experience a serious emotional disturbance that affects their daily functioning.

Health officials said one in five children suffer from a diagnosable mental health challenge.

Terri Henrizi is the Education Coordinator at the Association for Children’s Mental Health.

“Even though that many kids and youth have mental health challenges, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of children and youth in need of mental health services don’t get the treatment they need.”

Henrizi said it’s important to make sure children are getting proper treatment if they are showing symptoms of a mental health concern.

“The most important thing as parents that they should remember is that they’re an expert on their child and if they have a concern or a gut feeling that something is wrong then they should follow their instincts and reach out for help.”

Henrizi said said the most common mental health disorders in children are ADHD, mood disorders, and major depressive disorders.

Symptoms include hyperactivity, frequent unexplained temper tantrums, unusual fears or worries and sad or hopeless feelings that don’t go away.

She said these symptoms are not exclusive to mental disorders, and can be seen when a child experiences a new school, a move, or a new baby.

However Henrizi said if a child displays symptoms for a prolonged period of time, caregivers should reach out for help.

A full list of symptoms and ways to get help for your child are at the Association for Children’s Mental Health website.