Children’s Mental Health

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Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones within specific time frames, learning healthy social behaviors, and having coping skills and resilience to deal with conflicts and problems. Some children have challenges with some or all of these areas, either periodically or consistently throughout childhood. For parents and caregivers, this can be very confusing and scary.

Mental health disorders that affect children include:

Anxiety Disorders

Persistent fears, worries or anxiety that disrupt their ability to participate in play, school or typical age-appropriate social situations.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Compared with most children of the same age, children with ADHD have difficulty with attention, impulsive behaviors, hyperactivity or some combination of these concerns.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

This is a neurological condition that appears in early childhood — usually before age 3. Although the severity of ASD varies, a child with this disorder has difficulty communicating and interacting with others.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are defined as a preoccupation with an ideal body type, disordered thinking about weight and weight loss, and unsafe eating and dieting habits. Eating disorders can result in emotional and social dysfunction and physical complications.

Depression and Other Mood Disorders

Persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest that disrupt a child's ability to function in school and interact with others. Bipolar disorder results in extreme mood swings between depression and extreme emotional or behavioral highs that may be unguarded, risky or unsafe.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Prolonged emotional distress, anxiety, distressing memories, nightmares and disruptive behaviors in response to violence, abuse, injury or other traumatic events.

Schizophrenia

A disorder in perceptions and thoughts that cause a person to lose touch with reality (psychosis). Most often appearing in the late teens through the 20s, schizophrenia results in hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behaviors.

Our Services for Families of Children with Mental Health Challenges

If you think your child is showing warning signs of mental illness, if you have received a diagnosis, or if you have concerns about your child’s behaviors, Maryland Coalition of Families can help! Our trained staff have experience as parents, grandparents and caregivers of children who have had challenges with their mental health – and now they use their knowledge to support other families.

Our staff can help you:

  • Openly talk about the challenges of parenting children with mental health challenges
  • Know that you are not alone
  • Identify the strengths and best aspects of your child and your family
  • Learn how the state programs work and help you negotiate your way through the social, legal and health care systems
  • Learn about the services and supports available in your community and how to access them
  • Navigate the school system and work collaboratively with teachers and administrators
  • Advocate for your child’s needs at every stage of development
  • Accept your child and the situation without feeling judged, ashamed, or guilty
  • Connect with other families who know what you’re going through
  • Find hope for the future

All of our services are confidential and free to families regardless of income. To connect with one of our staff, email us at [email protected] or call 410-730-8331.

Resources for More Information

Child Mind Institute

Children’s Mental Health Matters

Mayo Clinic Mental Illness in Children: Know the Signs