Clues to help spot mental illness in kids

Diagnosing mental health problems in kids
Updated: May. 9, 2017 at 8:33 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's estimated that 1 in 5 children will experience a mental, emotional or behavioral health problem before age 18.

May is Children's Mental Health Awareness month.

Dr. Chandra Lasley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Covenant Horizons Outpatient Mental Health Clinic.

She says mental health 'issues' can show up in children as young as age 5, but as they grow into adolescence, there are definite signs that should not be ignored.

Dr. Lasley says, "If somebody's thinking about hurting themselves or suicide, some of those signs: they might talk  about death in general, or they might be writing poems about death or loss or depression, or they might hint 'I'm thinking maybe it's not worth it for me to be here.'"

Dr. Lasley says if you hear any of those warning signs, don't be afraid to ask, 'Are you thinking about suicide?'

If the answer is 'Yes,' she says it's time to get help.

Dr. Lasley adds communication is the key. When you want kids to open up and discuss what is bothering them, it's important to just listen and not be judgemental.

She also says depression and anxiety in kids can look very different from what we expect in adults.

When children feel sad or anxious, she says they may become very irritable, hard to reach or distant from their friends. Younger children may regress and wet the bed.

Dr. Chandra Lasley has more advice on parenting and looking for clues before kids get in trouble.

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