Understanding Mental Health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. And, scientists are discovering that changes in the body leading to mental illness may start much earlier, before any symptoms appear.

Through a greater understanding of child brain development, 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 future mental health disorders. Once mental illness develops, it becomes a regular part of your child’s life 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.

For more information on the signs and symptoms associated with a wide-range of mental health disorders, explore the resources below.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood.


Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorders in children, affecting nearly 13% of young people.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious brain illness that can be difficult to diagnose. Children with bipolar disorder experience unusual mood changes.


Teasing, ignoring, or intentionally hurting another child are all types of bullying.


Depression is a serious disorder that can cause significant problems in mood, thinking, and behavior at home, in school, and with peers.

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is an illness that causes serious disturbances to someone's everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating.


Grief is a natural response to a death or a loss, such as a divorce, an end to a relationship, or a move away from friends.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is a childhood condition of extreme irritability, anger, and frequent, intense temper outbursts.

Self-Injurious Behavior

Children who exhibit self-injurious behavior (SIB) perform deliberate and repetitive acts of injuring their own body as a way to cope with overwhelming negative feelings, such as sadness, anxiety or stress, or as a way to experience some sense of feeling.

Substance Use

Some children and adolescents use alcohol and other drugs and develop serious problems which require professional treatment.


Building strong family relationships, having the knowledge of the risks and warning signs of suicide/depression, and having access to prevention and intervention resources will often decrease the likelihood of suicide in youth.


Psychological trauma is an emotionally painful, shocking, stressful, and sometimes life-threatening experience. It may or may not involve physical injuries, and can result from witnessing distressing events.

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