In India mental illnesses are very common, affecting approximately 15-20 % of children. Despite the high prevalence of mental health issues, only 20% receive appropriate care. The untreated psychiatric disorder is associated with significant adverse sequelae including failure to achieve in education, occupation, marriage, and child-rearing. These mental health issues can affect the children during their youth too and can create deep impact in their lives. This highlight the importance of early identification and timely treatment of mental health issues.
Common Mental Health Issue:
Children with autism have difficulty in nonverbal communication and social interaction. It is manifested by reduced eye contact, abnormal use of gestures, facial expression, body orientation, and speech. A child may have abnormal behavior like repetitive body movements such as hand flapping and repetitive use of language such as repeating phrases from television or repeating the being question asked. A child doesn’t share enjoyment, interests, and activities with other people. Please note that autism is a neurological issue however it also has deep mental health aspects associated.
It is most common neurobehavioral disorder in school going children, characterized by inattention, easy distractibility, poor impulse control, decreased self-inhibitory capacity, and motor overactivity and restlessness. in common language “child is always on toes, never sits on his seat”
Substance abuse among Indian children is growing at a much faster rate than previously believed. More than 13% of those involved in drug and substance abuse in India, are below 20 years.
Warning signs of drug abuse are
Change in mood
Change in appetite
Change in sleep pattern
Decreased interest in school/school performance
Loss of weight
Secretive behavior about social plans
Valuables such as money or jewelry missing from home.
Children may also have depressed mood, decreased interest in surrounding and studies and is associated with a feeling of worthlessness and even suicidal ideation. The child may feel difficulty in sleeping, fatigue, weight loss. All these symptoms may cause significant distress in children and interfere with their normal day to day functioning and studies.
In this disorders, the child has pathological anxiety or fear in which anxiety become disabling and interfere with social interactions, routine activities, and achievements. Anxiety can be to particular object or situation known as phobias, like height, closed spaces etc. Anxiety can be expressed as crying, clinging and tantrums in children. Children may have separation anxiety, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (after accident or death of close relative.
Early identification and treatment is the hallmark of management of the child in helping him to come out of it and perform best of his potential.