POST TIME: 20 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Handling children’s mental health issues

Handling children’s mental health issues

Lack of attention to mental health of children and adolescents may lead to mental disorders with lifelong consequences, undermines compliance with health regimens and reduces the capacity of societies to be safe and productive. More than half of all mental disorders have an onset in childhood and adolescence with suicide being the third leading cause of death among adolescents. Child and adolescent mental health thus needs to be considered and emphasised as an integral component of overall health and growth of young population.

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect mood, thinking and behaviour. Unfortunately, there are relatively few trained psychiatrists in the country. Factors that may lead to depression, anxiety and addictive behaviors, and eating disorders include stressful life situations, use of alcohol or recreational drugs, imbalance of a chemical substance in the brain, and genetic disorder or having a blood relative with a mental illness, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some common mental illnesses prevail in the society. The majority of mental illnesses are treatable by adopting some preventive measures. Families should take wise and timely decisions for their children.

Youth with positive mental health have positive self-efficacy beliefs, are productive and able to tackle developmental challenges adequately. On the other hand, poor mental health in young age is associated with school failure, delinquency, social and peer problems, substance misuse alongside adverse outcomes in adulthood.

Caregivers who look after persons with mental illnesses or neurodevelopmental disorders are increasingly realising that they must work towards providing the person with a meaningful life, and not just helping them cope with their health.

With depression and anxiety disorders, both the parents need to work as one unit, give the children their space, and as a therapist it’s my duty to counsel the parents in a way that it’s empathetic to them. Establishing a rapport, and making them understand that while this is not the kind of world they grew up in, the situation requires them to behave in such a way without being judgmental of the child’s acts and choices, is important. Developing school mental health services in Bangladesh is not an easy task but it is important to accept the reality that it is the need of the day if we wish to have healthy, well-adjusted youth.