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Social Isolation to Eating Habits: 8 recognising signs of childhood mental health issues

It is crucial for parents, caregivers, and society as a whole to recognise the signs and seek proper treatment for children with mental health issues. Early intervention can help improve the child's quality of life and prevent further complications in their development.

Written By: Kristina Das @https://twitter.com/KristinaDas2 New Delhi Published on: October 09, 2023 15:07 IST
world mental health day 2023
Image Source : FREEPIK These are the recognising signs of childhood mental health issues.

Childhood mental health is a pressing concern in India, as it significantly impacts a child's overall well-being and future prospects. Recognising the signs of mental health issues in Indian children is vital for timely intervention and support.

By recognising the signs of childhood mental health issues outlined by Ms Shikha Saxena, AVP-Academics & International Collaboration, Cambridge Montessori Pre-School, and Daycare and taking proactive measures, we can lay the foundation for a brighter future in India, where children's mental well-being is prioritized and supported.

Changes in Behaviour: Significant changes in a child's behaviour can be an early indicator of mental health concerns. In India, where the stigma around mental health is prevalent, these signs often go unnoticed. According to a survey by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), approximately 7.3% of Indian children aged 4–16 exhibit signs of emotional or behavioural disorders.

Emotional Distress: Children experiencing prolonged emotional distress may be grappling with mental health problems. A study published in the Indian Journal of Paediatrics highlighted that the prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders among Indian adolescents ranged from 7.6% to 25.3%.

Changes in Sleep Patterns: Sleep disturbances in Indian children can also be indicative of mental health challenges. A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry found that over 40% of Indian adolescents reported poor sleep quality, which is often linked to stress and anxiety.

Decline in Academic Performance: Academic struggles are common among Indian children dealing with mental health issues. The National Mental Health Survey of India estimated that 7.3% of Indian children and adolescents have significant mental health problems that can affect their educational outcomes.

Social Isolation: Social withdrawal, a common sign of mental health issues, is prevalent among Indian children, particularly due to academic pressures. According to a report by the Observer Research Foundation, the competitive education system in India can lead to social isolation and high levels of stress among students.

Physical Symptoms: Physical complaints such as headaches or stomach aches are often linked to mental health issues in Indian children. The lack of awareness and stigma surrounding mental health may cause children to express their emotional distress through physical symptoms.

Changes in Eating Habits: Unhealthy eating habits can be reflective of emotional turmoil in Indian children. The Indian Journal of Community Medicine reported that a significant number of Indian adolescents engage in disordered eating behaviours, which can contribute to mental health challenges.

Self-Harm or Suicidal Thoughts: While less common, self-harm and suicidal thoughts are critical concerns in India. According to the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative, suicide is a leading cause of death among individuals aged 15–39 in the country.


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