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Signs to look for if your child needs mental health support: Mayo Clinic lists 5 signs to look for

Posted at 7:59 PM, Jun 02, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. — If you are a parent, you know your kid or teen can experience a wide range of emotions in a short period of time. So how do you know what's normal, and what are the signs that you know if you should be concerned?

Dr. Susan Swearer says it starts with knowing your kids well.

"I always encourage parents to carve time out to just hanging out, play, read, watch a show together, just to get a normal baseline in terms of behavior, mood and attitude," said Swearer.

Swearer says that can come in the form of questions from how was your day to what did you eat for lunch. When you know your kid's baseline and routine, you can notice when things change.

"Kids that are typically energetic and excited about things are now withdrawing, becoming more irritable, becoming upset about things they didn't use to get upset about. Changes in routine, not eating as much, changing in sleeping, sleeping less, or sleeping more can all be signs that kids are having mental health difficulties," said Dr. Steve Whiteside, a child psychologist at the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic says the top five signs your kid could be experiencing a mental health issue are changes in activity level, more sleep, isolation, personality changes, and changes in eating habits.

He and Swearer agree if you see major changes in kids' routines and accompanied by changes in mood or anxiety it might mean you should have a conversation with them.

"I encourage parents to label the behavior or to label what they're noticing. So they might say something like you know, I've noticed you've seemed really down lately, or I've noticed when you come home from school you just run up to your room and shut the door, is something bothering you?" said Whitesaid.

And if you think something is wrong, don't just stop when you hear them use they tell you they're fine.

"Realizing and expecting that kids or teens very well may not want to talk about it when you approach them, they may not want to talk about it the first time. So, it may take coming back a few times," said Swearer.

"When you're concerned and worried about your son or daughter or family member, there's never a wrong time to seek support."