At Valley Children’s, we believe that health includes not only physical wellness, but mental and emotional wellness, too. We also recognize that mental health is closely tied to physical health – anxiety, stress or depression can manifest in physical symptoms like headache, fatigue and stomach pain or other gastrointestinal issues. Because of this linkage between mind and body, issues with emotional health are often hard to spot and diagnose. That is why it’s important to be closely involved in your child’s emotional wellbeing, and to make an emotional wellbeing check-up a part of your child’s regular well child exam. Never be afraid to enlist your child’s pediatrician to help if you are concerned about your child’s mental health.
Literature shows that one in five children will suffer from depression by the end of adolescence, and approximately half of teens with depression are not diagnosed until adulthood. As parents, you are the first line of defense in recognizing changes in your child’s emotional wellbeing. It’s important to develop an open dialogue with your child early on about their mental health, and allow them to come to you for help or advice.
Understanding Childhood Stressors
Many parents believe that children are unaware of daily stressors that adults experience. In reality, children are very sensitive to their environment, and changes can cause anxiety, stress, depression or even fear. Additionally, children can encounter challenges at school, which can sometimes include being overloaded and stressed, bullying, low self-esteem and other issues. Social media can often intensify these stressors because they encourage an “always-on” mentality for school-age children, and may lead to increased peer pressure and exposure to online bullying.
If you suspect that your child may be struggling with their mental health and feel you need professional help, talk with their pediatrician about ways to support their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Resources for Parents