Children's Mental Health Basics

There are a number of conditions, situations and disorders which can affect the mental well-being of a child or adolescent. 

Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety in children is expected and normal at specific times in development. However, parents should not discount a child's fears. Because anxious children may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed. Anxiety disorders include panic attacks, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Click here for more information.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition which includes difficulties with attention, increased activity, and difficulties with impulsivity. Estimates show that between 3% to 7% of school-aged children and about 4% of adults have ADHD. Click here for more information.

Bipolar Disorder
Although bipolar disorder more commonly develops in older teenagers and young adults, it can appear in children as young as 6. Evaluation will find that some of these children are suffering from a mental disorder. Yet, only a very few of those will have bipolar disorder. Click here for more information.

Bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents. Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis. Click here for more information.

Child Abuse
Child abuse and violence affect millions of children each year. Child abuse includes physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect. Interpersonal violence is violence between people and includes community violence, partner violence (also called "domestic violence"), and bullying. Click here for more information.

Conduct Disorder
Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens. A child with this disorder may display a pattern of disruptive and violent behavior and have problems following rules. Click here for more information.

Childhood depression is different from the normal "blues" and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Just because a child seems sad, this does not necessarily mean he or she has significant depression. If the sadness becomes persistent, or if disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life develops, it may indicate that he or she has a depressive illness. Click here for more information.

Eating Disorders
Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors about food, weight, and self-image. Anorexia is when someone doesn’t eat enough and becomes very thin. Bulimia is when someone overeats, then purges, such as by forced vomiting. People with bulimia may be of normal weight. Click here for more information.

Military Families
Global conflict and unrest have led to the deployment of large numbers of military personnel (active duty, Reserves, National Guard). As a result of duty assignments, members of the military are often separated from their families for lengthy periods of time. A family that loses the active presence of a parent through separation faces significant challenges and stress. Click here for more information.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder
It's not unusual for children, especially those in their "terrible twos" and early teens, to defy authority every now and then. When this behavior lasts longer than six months and is excessive compared to what is usual for the child's age, it may mean that the child has a type of behavior disorder called oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Click here for more information.

Personality Disorders
People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits. They may have trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. Two common disorders are antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Click here for more information.

Substance Use Disorders
A substance use disorder is the repeated use of alcohol or drugs. Substance use disorders make it difficult for people to meet family, work, or school obligations. Some people with a mental health disorder may also have a substance use disorder. Click here for more information.

Psychotic Disorders
Psychotic disorders are when someone loses contact with reality and experiences hallucinations or delusions. For example, schizophrenia is a disorder that can be characterized by hallucinations or delusional thoughts. Click here for more information.

Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior
Suicidal behavior involves thoughts of wanting to die or trying to kill oneself. People who are suicidal often experience feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness. Click here for more information.