Mental Health Problems
Is this your child's symptom?
- Mental health problems that often need urgent help
- Examples are anxiety attacks, depression, substance (drug) use and acting out
- Resources include hotlines, helplines, mental health experts and your child's doctor
Types of Serious Mental Health Problems
- Suicide thoughts, threats or attempts
- Homicide thoughts or threats
- Child abuse
- Drug or alcohol use
- Anxiety attacks or panic attacks
Types of Non-Serious Behavior Problems
Many childhood behavior problems are common and not serious. Your child's doctor can often manage them. Pediatricians are often the first point of contact for these problems. Examples are:
- Temper tantrums
- Sleep problems
- Toilet training problems
- Eating problems
- Developmental delays
Behavior Scale: How to Judge Severity
- Mild Symptoms: Symptoms do not keep the child from any normal activities. School, play, relationships and sleep are not changed. Treatment: parenting groups or books.
- Moderate Symptoms: Symptoms keep the child from doing some normal activities. New behaviors mainly occur at home. They affect how the child and parent interact. They may also keep him or her from going to child care or school. Your child may not sleep well because of these symptoms. Treatment: Most often, brief counseling from a mental health provider or your child's doctor.
- Severe Symptoms: Symptoms keep the child from doing most normal activities. They affect the way the child acts with parents. Symptoms also impact relations with siblings and friends. Adults at child care or school may also be impacted by the child's actions. Treatment: These patients often need to be seen urgently by a mental health provider.
When to Call Us for Mental Health Problems
Call 911 Now
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
Self Care at Home
Care Advice and Resources for Mental Health Problems
- Threats of Harm to Self or Others - How to Respond:
- Children who threaten harm to self or other people need to be seen now. Emergent psych exams are usually done in the ER no matter the time of day.
- The risk assessment for suicide or homicide is usually made by a mental health expert. ER doctors may do the first screening.
- Some of these children may need to be in the hospital.
- If anyone is in danger, call the police (911). Examples are spouse abuse.
- If anyone is in a mental health crisis, call 988.
- For child abuse concerns, call the Child Protection Services (CPS) Hotline in your state.
- Child or Teen Already In Treatment With A Mental Health Provider:
- Contact your mental health provider first.
- If can't reach your provider and problem is urgent, call 988 or another crisis resource. See below.
- Hotlines: Local and National Mental Health Hotlines or Crisis Lines (US numbers):
- Hotlines (Crisis Lines) are available 24/7. They provide counselors who can help you now.
- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988.
- Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
- Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453.
- Substance Abuse Hotline: 1-800-662-4357. This is a 24/7 substance use and mental health referral line. They can give you local treatment choices and numbers for support groups.
- National Poison Control Number: 1-800-222-1222.
- Helplines: Local and National Mental Health Helplines (US numbers):
- Helplines are not crisis lines. They provide services Monday through Friday during regular hours.
- Call your local or state mental health resource first, if you have the number. If not, call a national helpline for assistance.
- National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-6264. This is an information and referral source for finding local mental health programs.
- Postpartum Depression Helpline: 1-800-944-4773.
- Website Resources for Mental Health Concerns:
- American Academy of Pediatrics parenting website: www.healthychildren.org.
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Talking to Children about Disasters.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child becomes worse
- You have other questions or concerns
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Copyright 2000-2023. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.