How to know if a child needs help

Is it “just a phase,” or do you know a child who needs the support of a mental health professional? Reviewing these signs can serve as a first step as you make this important decision.

At MCYAF, we offer assessment for a wide variety of situations, from learning difficulties to trouble fitting in and making friends. We can offer help to youth who persistently experience one or more of the following:

  • Academic difficulties:

    • Struggles with reading, spelling, writing, and/or math

    • Struggles with peers and social relationships

    • Intellectual potential does not match academic performance

    • A marked difference or a decline in performance at school

    • Difficulty following directions

    • Problems with memory and retaining information

    • Difficulty processing or organizing information

    • Inability to manage homework or meet deadlines

    • Problems with attention and staying focused in class

  • Emotional difficulties:

    • Sadness and hopelessness for no obvious reason

    • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other important relationships and activities

    • Frequently angry or irritable

    • Cries frequently or overreacts to normal experiences

    • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or anxiety

    • Unable to come to terms with a loss

    • Fearful or having unexplained fears

    • Excessive concerns about physical problems or appearance

    • Frightened that his/her mind is controlled or is out of control

    • Worry about being harmed, hurting others, or doing something "bad"

    • Feeling life is too hard to handle

  • Behavioral signs:

    • Difficulty controlling or containing impulses

    • Inability to sit still or focus attention

    • Losing interest in things once enjoyed

    • Racing thoughts that are nearly too fast to follow

    • Unexplained changes in sleeping or eating patterns

    • Persistent nightmares

    • Avoiding friends or family; frequently wanting to be alone

    • Suicidal thoughts

    • Alcohol and other drug use

    • Cutting; self-harm

    • Engaging in physical fights

    • Eating excessive amounts of food and then purging; abusing laxatives; or restricting food intake

    • Unnecessary dieting and/or exercising obsessively

    • Engaging in risky, life threatening activities

    • Washing, cleaning, or performing certain routines numerous times per day

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