Having open conversations about mental health—including about harmful stigmas and beliefs—is part of a healthy and connected family environment, even if your child isn’t showing any immediate signs of mental health problems. However, there are some indicators that may suggest it’s a particularly crucial time to have an intentional conversation with them about mental health.
School and social pressures, especially without proper social support, can lead to mental health problems for children. To top it off, recent events, including the pandemic, have left many young people with mental health challenges—data from the CDC revealed that in 2021, 44% of teens reported feelings of sadness and hopelessness, up from 36% in 2019.
For younger children, the impact may be even greater. Pre-pandemic anxiety and depression rates among children were between 8% and 12%, while post-pandemic rates were indicated to be between 20% and 25%.
Here’s a short list of signs your child may be struggling with on their own (or trying to cope with someone else’s) mental health challenges:
- They seem less social lately/are spending more time alone.
- There’s been a recent tragic event (such as an illness or death in the family).
- Their grades and/or interest in school have decreased.
- They seem more tearful, easily angered, or nervous than they used to.
- They’ve had difficulty sleeping (falling or staying asleep, nightmares, etc.).
It’s important to be aware of any recent mood or behavioral changes, especially if they have lasted longer than a couple of weeks, as they could be indicators of a bigger mental health concern.