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Commentary: Don't Ignore Possible Warning Signs From Young Family Members

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Sandra Molina
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As parents, you may wonder if your child needs mental health treatment, or if you’re simply seeing teen angst. While no parent should ignore possible warning signs of common issues like anxiety and depression, one easy thing to look for is your child’s behavioral changes over a brief period of time. Are they gaining or losing weight rapidly? Are their grades dropping from what they were last year, or even from the last report card? Have they stopped spending time with friends, caring for their hygiene, or going to school at all? Sudden behavioral changes, especially if they involve basic functions of daily living like eating and bathing, or even getting out of bed, may very well be signs that there is a genuine mental health concern at play that merits intervention.

While parents may be reluctant to rush to judgement, we also should not discount our concerns based solely on the age of the child. The CDC maintains suicide statistics on children as young as five years old. And a report recently released by Mental Health America shows that from March to October of 2020, emergency room visits as a result of mental health concerns increased by 24% for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

In the end, it’s better to request an evaluation and find nothing wrong, than to ignore your concerns about your child only to discover later that there was something that should have been addressed.