Kids & Company Blog

Why Early Intervention is Critical in Children’s Mental Health

This blog was written by our guest author Julia Swaigen, Director of Attuned Families.

Mental health problems in children and youth are a growing concern, and the need for early intervention cannot be overstated. Mental health disorders affect one in six children between the ages of 6 and 17, according to the World Health Organization. In Canada, the statistics on children's mental health are also concerning. Approximately 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario have a mental health problem, according to a report from Children's Mental Health Ontario. Furthermore, a national survey found that 70% of mental health problems have their onset in childhood or adolescence.

When mental health problems are not addressed in childhood, they can persist into adulthood and have a long-term impact on individuals and society. Mental health problems can affect children's cognitive, emotional, and social development, leading to difficulties in academic performance, social relationships, and overall quality of life. 

Early intervention in children's mental health is crucial to prevent mental health problems from escalating and persisting into adulthood. Studies show that children who receive early intervention for mental health problems have better long-term outcomes, such as improved school performance, fewer behavioural problems, and reduced risk of substance abuse. 

As a Mental Health Professional, it’s no surprise to me that research shows that up to 70% of teens diagnosed with mental health problems actually started experiencing symptoms in childhood. So it's essential to identify and treat mental health problems in childhood to prevent long-term consequences.

As parents and caregivers, there are several ways we can support children's mental wellness. Firstly, paying attention to changes in behaviour is crucial. If a child suddenly becomes withdrawn, irritable, or starts having difficulty sleeping or eating, it may be a sign of a mental health problem. Talk to your child and their healthcare provider to determine if further evaluation is necessary. Encouraging open communication is also important. Create a safe and supportive environment where children feel comfortable talking about their thoughts and feelings. Encourage them to express themselves through art, writing, or other creative outlets. Promoting healthy habits such as physical activity, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep can also have a positive impact on mental health.

If a child is experiencing mental health problems, seeking professional help is vital. Unfortunately, mental health problems in children often go unnoticed or untreated. As a parent myself, I completely understand why mental health problems go unnoticed in so many families. We’re in the midst of a Mental Health Crisis. At a time when mental health problems are so common, it’s easy to see symptoms or behaviour in your child and then see the same symptoms and behaviour in other children in your circle, and think it must be a normal part of development. To make things even more confusing, there are many behaviours in children that are concerning for some parents, but are actually a completely normal part of development. That’s why at Attuned Families, we focus on prevention and early intervention, offering Mental Health check-ups for children and families.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it takes an average of 11 years for children to receive appropriate treatment after the onset of symptoms. That’s a very long time for a child to go through life, struggling in ways that can affect their overall development. Early intervention can make a significant difference in the long-term outcomes for children.

Early intervention in children's mental health is critical for their well-being and long-term outcomes. Mental health problems affect an alarming number of children and can have a significant impact on their lives if left untreated. As parents and caregivers, we can play a crucial role in supporting children's mental wellness by paying attention to changes in behaviour, encouraging open communication, promoting healthy habits, and seeking professional help when needed. Let's work together to ensure that our children have the support they need in order to thrive.

Upcoming Kidco Talk
Join us for a webinar on May 25th at 12 pm EDT in collaboration with Attuned Families. Julia Swaigen, Founder and Director of Attuned Families, will be discussing the importance of strong, connected family relationships, why so many families struggle to maintain healthy relationships, and what can be done about it. We invite you to register here.

About Attuned Families:
Attuned Families is a child & family therapy practice located in Toronto offering virtual and in-person services. They help families navigate life’s challenges by building stronger connections, and improving communication for a healthier and happier family life. All of their therapists take a client-centred approach and use research-based methods to support children, families, and their relationships.

To learn more about the services they offer, check out their website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *