What Are the Most Common Mental Illnesses in Children?

Written in Partnership with In the City Camps

One in six youths, ages 6-17, experience a mental health disorder each year. 

Anxiety and depression are prevalent among children. Between 2016 and 2019, an estimated 9.4 percent of children from 3 years old to 17 (approximately 5.8 million) were diagnosed with anxiety and 4.4 percent (approximately 2.7 million) with depression.

While we do not yet understand the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, we know it had a significant impact on children’s mental health. From March 2020 to October 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emergency department visits for mental health crises increased 24 percent for children from 5 years old to 11 and 31 percent for those from 12 to 17 compared with the same period in 2019.

Mental health challenges manifest differently in children than they do in adults. Be aware of signs and symptoms to detect any mental health challenges your child might be experiencing. Common signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression in children include: 

  • Fear of separation from parents or other caregivers
  • Changes in eating, sleeping, social or hygiene habits
  • Fear of specific things or situations, e.g., school, people, dogs, insects.
  • Physical symptoms such as stomachaches
  • Loss of interest in activities the child once enjoyed
  • Feelings of hopeless, irritable or sad on a frequent basis

While In the City Camps and society as a whole are talking a lot more about mental illnesses in children and teens, we need to remember many young people may not want to disclose how they are feeling to the adults in their lives. Do not be discouraged. Keep the lines of communication open; demonstrate consistent care and concern for your child; and remind them they are welcome to talk to other adults -– not just you — about issues they may be experiencing. 

Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor, rabbi or another professional if you’re concerned about your child’s mental health. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, the following resources are always available: 

  • 988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 
    • Call or text 988 for 24/7, free and confidential support (The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.)
  • Crisis Text Line
    • Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor 24/7.

Remember, the Blue Dove Foundation is here to support you with our
Jewish mental health resources.

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