Mental Illness in Children
By appearances, she seemed so innocent with bright green eyes and curly brown hair. An only child of a well-educated, successful couple, Lexi had access to opportunities that others dream of. She attended a private school, lived in a gated community, and was surround by affluence. Mental illness, however, didn’t care about any of it or that Lexi was just six-years old.
Since she could walk, Lexi had frequent erratic outburst and displayed aggressive, sometimes violent, behavior. At three years old, she was expelled from daycare for multiple attempts to hurt her teacher. At home, she often punched holes in walls or broke household items. In kindergarten, Lexi threatened to commit suicide. That was when her parents knew they needed help and called LFCS.
It was not an easy road, but through regular, intensive therapy sessions, Lexi made progress. She learned how to respect boundaries and that behavioral expectations were not optional. Her parents changed too. They learned strategies to manage her outburst more effectively and how to hold Lexi accountable for her actions.
Lexi will continue to face challenges as she and her parents manage her mental illness, but through counseling services offered at LFCS, this family has picked up the pieces of their life and found a way to make it whole again.
Are you afraid of what it could mean if your child is diagnosed mental illness?
Mental illness, especially mental illness in children, is a topic with a lot of stigma attached. However, it is important to be aware of the prevalence of mental illness in children, the effects of leaving mental illnesses untreated, and the treatments available to children.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, one in five children suffers from a mental disorder. Despite the prevalence of mental illness in children, only twenty percent of children with mental disorders are identified and receive appropriate mental health services. The effects of leaving mental disorders untreated in children can leave them at a higher risk for suicide, school failure, involvement in the justice system, and higher use of health care services.
Early intervention is vital in minimizing the long term effects of mental disorders in children. A good place to start is at your child’s pediatrician and they can provide you with counseling and psychiatric resources.