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Warnings / Early Detection

All people feel sad, angry, worried, and out of control at times. This is a normal part of life. Sometimes, however, a person’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior become too hard for them to manage and get in the way of their ability to cope with the every day demands of home, school, and/or relationships. This may be a sign of an emerging mental health concern. Mental health problems can affect people of any age, from early childhood throughout the life cycle. Though mental health problems are not always easy to see in children and adolescents, there are some signs and symptoms you can be on the lookout for.

The causes of mental health problems are complicated and not yet fully understood. It is known, however, that mental health issues may come from a combination of different factors including a person’s biology (e.g. genetics, chemical imbalances in the body) and from environmental factors (e.g. stressful or harmful experiences, exposure to harmful chemicals.)

Without the right help, children and adolescents with mental health issues are at a higher risk to develop other difficulties, such as school failure or drop-out, problematic behavior, and even suicide. Identifying problems early and getting appropriate treatment can help children reach their full potential and may prevent more significant problems from developing. Getting help early is important!


  • Persistent nightmares
  • Unusual thoughts or beliefs
  • Thoughts that race too fast
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to focus attention
  • Hearing of voices that cannot be explained
  • Suicidal thoughts


  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Angry feelings
  • Anxious or worried feelings
  • Extreme fear
  • Sense of worthlessness and guilt
  • Sense of agitation and uneasiness
  • Feelings that life is too hard or has no meaning


  • Decrease in school performance
  • Loss of interest or effort in things he or she usually enjoys
  • Unexplained changes in sleeping, and/or eating habits
  • Frequent crying and overreaction to small things
  • Avoidance of friends or family
  • Hyperactivity or frequent fidgeting
  • Frequent breaking of rules and/or getting in trouble with the law
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Threats of hurting him or herself or other people
  • Lack of remorse or guilt when others are hurt
  • Dangerous or life threatening actions
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Fire setting