Common Mental Health Struggles for Children and Adolescents

Mental wellness is an important topic for all age group. Too often, mental health struggles among children and adolescents are overlooked.

Nearly 50% of those diagnosed with a lifetime mental health issue report that they first experienced symptoms before the age of 15—and 75% report experiencing symptoms before they turned 18. However, while studies show that early intervention is critical in improving outcomes for the child and their family,1 less than half of adults with a childhood psychiatric history will receive the appropriate intervention at the time of their diagnosis.2

At Mindboost, we believe the first step in reversing this trend is early recognition. That’s why we make our app accessible to students so they can begin developing strong mental habits and addressing potential unhealthy patterns.

Signs of Childhood Mental Illness

While symptoms will differ by individual, signs that a child or adolescent is struggling with mental health include:

  • Inattention at school
  • Declining grades
  • Repeated reluctance or refusal to participant in school or social activities
  •  Difficulty sitting still
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in energy level
  • Depression or sadness
  • Out of character irritability
  • Recurrent temper tantrums

Common Mental Health Struggles in Children

If you see any of the signs listed above in your child, you should consult with your child’s pediatrician or family physician.

Some of the most common mental health struggles among children and adolescents include:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior disorders
  • Depression (among adolescents)

Risk factors for Poor Adolescent Mental Health

While it is not uncommon for young children to struggle with mental health, rates of mental health illness are known to increase dramatically in middle to late adolescence.

There are some known factors that can increase the risk of mental health issues among young people.

Risk factors for adolescent mental illness include:

  • Having a learning disability
  • Having a parent with poor mental health
  • Chronic physical ill health
  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Parental breakdown
  • Living with domestic abuse

However, it is important to note that none of these risk factors for mental illness mean a child is destined to face mental health struggles. Many children with risk factors do not go on to develop struggles with mental health. There are positive steps caretakers can take to foster resilience and well-being in children of any background or risk level.

Fostering Mental Health Resilience in Children

Several factors independently associated with mental health resilience are:

  • The ability to form peer relationships
  • High self-esteem
  • Early parental attachment and support3
  • Emotional regulation
  • Academic engagement4

At Mindboost, We’re on a Mission to Improve Mental Health Resources for Students.

Following the onset of mental health symptoms, young people aged 0-25 experience the largest delay in receiving treatment of any age group. In large part, this is due to extremely limited access to mental health services. Unfortunately, even when treatments are offered, many are not based on the best current evidence.5

It’s clear there is a current pressing need for youth mental healthcare initiatives that can implement early prevention strategies and promote broadly accessible, evidence-based care. That’s where Mindboost comes in. Mindboost offers a mental health support chatbot named Mindy powered by Artificial Intelligence for 24/7 access. Mindy utilizes proprietary emotion ontology technology with proven results and a range of evidence-based psychological interventions.

For more information on the services Mindboost offers for students, visit the About Us page or schedule a consultation with our team!

Reference List

  1. Honeyman, C. (2007). Recognising mental health problems in children and young people. Paediatr Nus, 19(8), 38-44.
  2. Kim-Cohen, T., Caspi, A., Moffit, T., Harrington, H., Milne, B., & Pulton, R. (2003). Prior juvenile diagnoses in adults with mental disorder: developmental follow-back of a prospective-longitudinal cohort. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 60(7), 709-17.
  3. Young Minds. (2016). Mental Health in Infancy. Retrieved from Young Minds:
  4. Gartland, D., Riggs, E., Muyeen, S., Giallo, R., Afifi, T., MacMillan, H., . . . Brown, S. (2019). What factors are associatd with resilient outcomes in children exposed to social adversity? A systematic review. BMJ Open, 9(4), e024870.
  5. Andrews, G., Sanderson, K., Corry, J., & Lapsley, H. (2000). Using epidemiological data to model efficiency in reducing the burden of depression. J Ment Health Policy Econ., 3(4), 175-186.
  6. Bergman, K., Sarkar, P., Glover, V., & O’Connor, T. (2010). Maternal prenatal cortisol and infant cognitive development moderation by infant-mother attachment. Biol Pyschiatry, 67(11), 1026-32.
  7. Brown, E., Khan, L., & Parsonage, M. (n.d.). A chance to change: delivering effective parenting programmes to transform lives. London: Centre for Mental Health.
  8. Membride, H. (2016). Mental health: early intervention and prevention in children and young people. British Journal of Nursing, 25(10), 552-4, 556-7.