According to the National Institute of Mental Health, research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.1 Scientists are discovering that changes in the body leading to mental illness may start much earlier, before any symptoms appear.
Through greater understanding of when and how fast specific areas of children’s brains develop, we are learning more about the early stages of a wide range of mental illnesses that appear later in life. Helping young children and their parents manage difficulties early in life may prevent the development of disorders. Once mental illness develops, it becomes a regular part of your child’s behavior and more difficult to treat. Even though we know how to treat (though not yet cure) many disorders, many children with mental illnesses are not getting treatment.
Disorders affecting children may include anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, and oppositional and defiant disorders.