Treating children’s mental issues early could help prevent later problems

Mental health professionals are understanding more about the importance of addressing and treating a child’s mental health. As many as half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by about age 14 and signs may appear earlier, according to The National Institute of Mental Health, but treating children and helping their families manage mental health difficulties can prevent the development of disorders later.

For many parents, though, it can be a challenging prospect to consider, and a tough one to recognize. Different developmental stages for children mean there are a wide variety of signs to consider, said Dr. Eric Hartman, a licensed psychologist based in Wilmington who works primarily with school-aged children, adolescents, young adults and their families. “What’s important is if their behavior is having a negative impact,” he said. That could mean academic performance or how they behave around family and friends. “Notice if there is a shift in how they are relating to others.”

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