St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center Offers Tips for Dealing with Kids with Emotional Disorders
July 12, 2011
Is your child falling behind at school or having trouble making friends? According to Brian Espinoza, M.D., a psychiatrist on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, these could actually be warning signs that your child has an emotional disorder and is in need of professional help.
It is estimated that 15 million children in America have a psychiatric disorder, and only half of them receive help for their illness, according to the Child Mind Institute. In addition, 75 percent of all psychiatric disorders occur before the age of 24 and 50 percent of all disorders occur before the age of 14.
Dr. Espinoza attributes the gap between those that need help and those that receive help in part to the stigma associated with having a mental illness. “I believe there is a lot of shame, guilt and embarrassment associated with mental illnesses. In fact, some parents associate psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems with poor parenting. The truth is, it takes excellent parenting to recognize your child has a problem, and to get them the help they need in a timely fashion.”
Experts urge parents to get to know their child’s sleeping and eating habits and the activities they enjoy, and when they see a change lasting more than two weeks, to get them help. “If a child had a rash for more than two weeks, most parents would take them to the doctor. The same principle should be applied when dealing with emotional disorders,” says Dr. Espinoza.
Specific signs your child may be suffering from a mental illness include:
- Change in school performance, such as poor grades.
- Changes in eating and/or sleeping habits.
- Loss of interest in activities or friends they used to enjoy.
- Significant increase in time spent alone.
- Excessive complaints of physical ailments.
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Persistent disobedience or aggressive behavior.
- Long-lasting negative moods.
There are a number of professionals you can turn to for help if your child is exhibiting signs of a psychiatric disorder, including primary care and family practice physicians, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health facilities like St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center. St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center offers evaluations for people experiencing any type of mental health or substance abuse issue. Call 602-251-8535 in the metro Phoenix area or toll-free at 1-800-821-4193 to schedule an assessment.