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Kids and mental health

3-minute read

Are you concerned about the mental health of your child or a child you know? Or are you a kid looking for help?

Find out what some common mental health issues in kids are, why good mental health is important for children and what can be done to help.

Why kids' mental health is important

Having good mental health is key to the healthy development and wellbeing of every child. Kids need good mental health - not only to be able to deal with challenges and adapt to change, but so they can feel good about themselves, build healthy relationships with others and enjoy life.

A kid’s mental health can be influenced by many things, like family circumstances, school life and life events. While children can experience mental health issues at any age, they are most at risk between the ages of 12 and 16 years.

If your child, or a child you know, is having mental health issues, the best thing you can do is get them some help, before it gets worse - see 'Where to get help' below.

Mental health issues in children

About half of all serious mental health issues begin before a child reaches 14 years of age, so it is important to be able to recognise if there is cause for concern.

Everyone feels sad, angry or upset sometimes, including children. But if a kid feels like this most of the time, it’s a sign they may need help. Other signs include difficulty coping, getting on with others or staying interested in activities.

Kids can struggle with a range of issues as they grow up. Some of the common mental health-related issues they experience include:

Improving kids' mental health

There are plenty of things that can be done to improve mental health and help prevent mental health issues from developing. For example, getting enough sleep, eating well and doing regular physical activity is important for children, just as it is for adults.

As a parent or concerned adult, there are some simple steps you can take to support a child’s mental health. These are things like taking an active interest in the child, encouraging them to talk about what’s happening in their life and being aware of changes in their behaviour.

Where to get help

If you’d like to find out more, or talk to someone, here are some organisations that can help:

  • Kids Helpline (telephone and online counselling for ages 5-25) – call the Parentline number for your state or territory
  • headspace (mental health service for ages 12-25) – call 1800 650 890 or chat online
  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness and their carers) – call 1800 18 7263
  • (youth mental health service) – visit the website for info or use the online forum.

You can also ask your family doctor for advice or consult a psychologist if you would like more information or mental health resources for kids.

Last reviewed: September 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

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