Identifying mental health issues in children can be tricky. Of course, most teens are moody at times, so it can be challenging to determine whether your child’s behaviors are normal or signs of something more. 

However, it’s important to identify and treat mental health issues in children because they can impact your child’s emotional development, behavior, and ability to learn to the point where it affects most areas of their lives and the entire family. Here is what you need to know about these issues and signs your older child might be struggling with mental health. 

Types of Mental Illness in Teens

If your teen is occasionally moody and skips meals, you probably don’t have a reason to be concerned. Physicians use specific criteria to determine if a person has a mental illness. Specifically, if a person experiences five of the following symptoms daily for at least two weeks, they may be diagnosed with a major depressive disorder:

  • Changes in energy levels
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in concentration or task competition
  • Changes in motivation
  • New onset of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide

But, if a teen has persistent issues with several of these items, it’s still probably a good idea to speak with your primary care physician. 

12 Signs Your Older Child is Struggling with Mental Health

Some of the most common mental health struggles teens face include:

  • Depression — Lasting feelings of sadness, anxiety, and/or emptiness
  • Social phobias — Severe feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness in social settings
  • Generalized anxiety — Persistent worry about everyday matters

For most older children, there will be some telltale signs coinciding with mental health struggles. Here are 12 signs you’ll want to watch out for:

  1. Declining grades
  2. Pulling away from friends
  3. Loss of interest in activities
  4. Becoming easily fatigued
  5. Experiencing irritability
  6. Struggling with concentration
  7. Having difficulty with sleep
  8. Feeling persistently anxious or sad
  9. Losing interest in family
  10. Unexplained aches or pains
  11. Talking or moving slower than usual
  12. Experiencing pessimism or hopelessness

Observing one or two of these signs occasionally may not be cause for concern on the surface. But a combination of these signs over time may indicate that your child is struggling. 

Get the Homeschooling Support You Need from SCAIHS

Mental health struggles among older children have become increasingly common, whether in traditional school environments or otherwise. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you have the flexibility to provide your child with the support they need as your family navigates this challenging time. And you don’t have to handle everything on your own — there’s more support available than you may realize. 

The South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS) has been supporting homeschooling parents and their children throughout the state since 1990. We offer academic programs, curriculum assistance, online reporting and documentation, bookstore discounts, and much more. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of SCAIHS membership, and let us travel with you on your fulfilling homeschooling journey.