It’s hard to discern between symptoms of regular stress from school or life and unhealthy symptoms of a possible mental illness. There’s no perfect manual or list that you can go through and check off to make sure your child does or does not have a mental illness. That’s where a mental health evaluation comes in. Knowing some of the red flags of a possible mental illness can help in deciding whether your child needs a mental health evaluation or not.
What is a mental health evaluation?
A mental health evaluation is a process of compiling a lot of information about a person. This information includes biological and social information, along with data and observations from psychological exams. With all of these components, they hope to reach a diagnosis for whatever your teen is struggling with personally.
Symptoms that can be red flags
From PsychCentral, here are some common red flags that could signal your child may be struggling with a serious mental illness:
Frequent Verbal/Physical Aggression: This is more than just having a short temper. For a mental health evaluation to be needed, this has to be intense, abusive outbursts that happen often.
Self-Harm and/or Suicidal Ideation: Any self-harm (cutting, pulling hair out, etc.) is serious and needs to be taken seriously. Suicidal ideation should most certainly be treated as a very real, very dangerous situation. This type of behavior would absolutely call for a mental health evaluation.
Depressed Mood or Constantly Tired: Now we all know that teens can be angsty and frequently tired, but if it seems like it has gotten to an unhealthy extreme, it’s time to take a closer look with a medical professional.
Frequent Migraines/Headaches or Bodily Pain/Aches: Depression and anxiety–two serious mental illnesses–can cause physical issues such as frequent headaches. If these appear to happen way too often, it could be a sign of a more complex issue.
Awful Nightmares and/or Flashbacks to Unpleasant Events: This is mainly for children and teens that have been exposed to trauma in the past. If they’re reliving the events or having disturbing nightmares that disrupt sleep often, it could mean that your child is suffering from something more complicated, like PTSD.
Numerous Emotional Outbursts or Risky Behaviors: Bipolar disorder and Borderline Personality disorder both can manifest in extreme emotional outbursts or engaging in frequent risky behavior that puts themselves and others in danger.
If you notice that your child is showing any of the symptoms above, it would be wise to seek out someone that could conduct a mental health evaluation. Otherwise, your child may continue to suffer without the proper care all the way into adulthood.