To help you determine if you need to consult a mental health professional, here are some signs to take note of. Please note: Not all of these signs will be present at one time, nor are is this list all-inclusive as other issues and concerns may be present as well.
The child or teen:
- Is reporting feeling unusually stressed or worried (in children this may be expressed as new fears and phobias);
- Expresses lots of negative thoughts;
- Is not enjoying or not wanting to be a part of things that he or she would normally enjoy;
- Is exhibiting changes in behaviour, such as getting into fights and/or legal trouble;
- Is becoming involved in risky behaviour that they would usually avoid, like taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol (for teens);
- Seems easily irritated or angry with friends and family for no apparent reason;
- Is no longer doing as well in school as they should be or used to be;
- Seems unusually tense or restless;
- Often cries for no apparent reason; or
- Has trouble concentrating or remembering things.
Early Help is Important
Experts agree that the earlier problems are identified, the earlier treatment can begin, which leads to a more complete recovery. This is true of most illnesses like diabetes, but is also true for mental health problems.
Early help may prevent the symptoms of an illness from becoming too severe and causes less disruption to the child or teen’s home, school, work or community.
There are many ways to help – medication may be an option, and counselling is often recommended as it helps young people to find their strengths and ways to cope with stress, including helpful activities such as exercise, meditation and relaxation techniques.
With help from a mental health professional, and support from family and friends, mental health concerns are treatable, and recovery can be expected.
Recovery can be thought of as part of a personal journey to feel a degree of satisfaction with life and have meaningful and trusting relationships with people – whether they are family members, friends, or people at school or work.
Recovery also means different things to each person. For some, recovery means that no symptoms will persist, while for others, recovery means learning to live a full life despite any ongoing symptoms.
Getting Immediate Help
You can direct youth you are working with to this website for information, and specifically to the Need Help Now? button on each page if you feel they are in crisis. The resources at this link can be helpful outside regular school and office hours.
Visit Links and Resources for credible websites to learn more.
Direct youth to seek help right away if they are experiencing the following:
- Having suicidal thoughts or behaviours, or thoughts of harming others;
- Having trouble with alcohol or drug use, or having other mental health concerns along with depression;
- Thinking their symptoms could be linked to a physical health problem;
- Normal stresses of life do not explain the symptoms; and
- Measures to assist the problems have not helped
- Ensure youth who are at immediate risk are not left alone while seeking help.