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Children’s mental health difﬁculties and how to get help
Some children have emotional and behavioural difﬁculties that are mild, short-lived and can be resolved with minimum help and support. Others may have difﬁculties that seem more serious, and interfere with everyday life. Their emotions or behaviour seem to be different to other children of the same age. When problems occur for more than a few weeks and interfere with school, home, friendship or daily life, it is probably time to seek assistance
The following signs may indicate your child has a difficulty that needs professional attention:
- Frequent, unexplained temper tantrums
- Unusual fears
- Difﬁculty in going to sleep or staying asleep
- Sadness and feelings of hopelessness that don’t go away
- Avoiding friends or family and wanting to be alone most of the time
- Refusing to go to school on a regular basis
- Inability to get along with other children
- Hyperactive behaviour or constant movement beyond regular playing
- Noticeable disinterest or decline in school performance
- Frequent aggressive reaction (more than typically expected in the situation)
- Severe difﬁculties with concentration, attention and organisation
- Signiﬁ cant changes in behaviour over a short period of time
Things to take into account when deciding on the need for treatment
1. How severe the symptoms are in terms of:
• how much distress they cause
• how often they occur.
2. How much impact the symptoms have on the child:
- at home
- at school
3. How the child’s behaviour and feelings compare with that of other children the same age.
4. Any particular experiences within the child’s family, school, community or culture that may be inﬂuencing the behaviours of concern.
5. How the difﬁculties are affecting the child’s:
- social relationships.
Your doctor or school psychologist/counsellor can provide further advice.