mental health youth

Know the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in children and youth.

How do I know if my child or teen has a mental health problem?

Mental health problems involve difficulties with emotions/feelings; thoughts, attention, concentration, changes in behaviours, and physical symptoms (not due to a physical problem).

Mental health problems rarely appear full blown and ‘out of the blue’. They usually start with small changes, mild emotional distress, and some difficulty in day-to-day activities. Sadly, mental health problems are often not recognized until the young person is unable to cope or experiences a crisis.

Taking action as soon as possible can help to stop symptoms from becoming more severe. Intervening when symptoms are milder can result in faster recovery.

Mental health and substance use support

Find out where to start if you think your child or teen is in need of help.

What are the signs and symptoms to watch out for?

  • Exaggerated or unusual fears
  • Anxiety and ongoing worries
  • Mood – highs and lows or swings
  • Irritability
  • Development of unusual beliefs such as thinking other people are spying on them or going to harm them  
  • Difficulties paying attention or staying focused
  • Loss of interest in favourite activities
  • Decrease in time spent with friends and family; withdrawal and isolation
  • Drop in grades or school performance   
  • Marked changes eating habits 
  • Physical health complaints (such as headaches or stomach aches) that are not due to physical illness
  • Sleep difficulties – falling or staying asleep, nightmares
  • Self-injuring
  • Talk about suicide

If these signs/changes…

  • Increase in intensity
  • Persist over a period of time
  • Impair day-to-day functioning
  • Are not typical for the young person’s developmental age

…it may be time to seek help.

Talk about suicide or life is not worth living especially when accompanied by other disturbing changes always should be taken seriously.