Play It Forward Therapy

Mental Health Awareness Month

In the United States, 1 out of every 6 children, between the ages of 2-8 years, has a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder.

Now is the time to support, encourage and provide resources for children who are struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.  Raising awareness about mental health in children is the first step in being able to provide help and hope for kids and families who are facing these challenges.  We can make a difference by intervening early to positively impact a child’s social and emotional well being. Read on to learn more about what to look out for when it comes anxiety, depression and behavioral problems in children.  You’ll find helpful Fact Sheets about some of the most common challenges.​

Did you know that for children aged 3-17 years old…

  • 4% have a diagnosed


  • 1% have diagnosed

    ANXIETY and

  • 2% have diagnosed


According to the CDC…

  • 44% of children (ages 2-17 ) have received a diagnosis for


  • About 1 in 59 children has been identified with


  • Half of all

     psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 14

    and 75% by the age of 24

There are approximately 11 million children in the U.S. that are facing mental health challenges.  However, this statistic is based upon children who have already been given a diagnosis.  It does NOT include those children who have yet to be identified.  These kids are likely not receiving support for problems related to anxiety, depression or behavioral challenges.

Read on to increase your Mental Health Awareness!  It could be the first step toward making a positive difference in a child’s life and well-being.

Q. What are the most common mental health problems for children & teens?

A.  The most common psychiatric disorders in childhood are anxiety, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), depression and bipolar and eating disorders.2    It is not uncommon for some of these conditions to occur together such as depression and anxiety along with behavior problems.1  When it comes to the mental health of our kids, the statistics on children diagnosed with mental  disorders  is significant.  Yet, how many more children are experiencing or struggling with mental health problems that do not have a formal diagnosis?

Two-thirds of teens who experience symptoms of depression do not seek help, and therefore do not get identified.

The above statistic shows why Mental Health Awareness Month is so important. As parents and practitioners, we need to pay special attention to our children’s mental well-being.   It is essential that we support the youth of our next generation.  While it is fine to focus on a child’s academic success, it is equally important to pay attention to and nurture your child’s mental and psychological well-being.

Often times, that involves us taking closer look in the mirror and examining our own behaviors, issues and parenting techniques.  This takes courage to become more self-aware as a parent .  It also takes a certain level of parenting perceptiveness to be able to identify and take action if you have concern’s about your child’s social or emotional health.

Q. What are the signs of childhood mental disorder?

A:  Serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave or handle their emotions.  These changes cause stress and problems getting through the day or participating in daily activities.

OTs frequently coordinate care with the child’s pediatrician along with other mental health practitioners to support a child’s overall psychological well-being and participation in daily activities.  Occupational therapy may be one of the treatments working alongside other mental health experts who provide  cognitive behavior therapy (CBT),  parent training, behavioral therapy (ABA) and/or medication.

How can occupational therapy help my child?

A.  Occupational therapists work with children and youth helping to provide positive behavioral supports and social emotional strategies for children with or without an identified mental health problem.  The goal is to teach kids Social and Emotional Learning Strategies.  SEL strategies will help kids learn critical life skills for developing positive relationships, behaving ethically, and handling challenging situations more effectively.

Often times, I see how children and their families discover that counseling services from a mental health expert can give them additional tools to help with problem behaviors.

For me, growing up with a psychiatrist father, the topic of mental health issues was a part of my childhood, from visiting my dad at his psychiatry private practice to the conversations we had around the dinner table.  Because of this, I’ve always had a keen awareness and appreciation for occupational therapy’s role in mental health promotion, prevention and intervention.

Mental Health Resources

These resources are a starting point to help you learn more about anxiety, depression and ADHD and how they can affect your child’s ability to engage in activities at home, school and other social situations.  Feel free to share them with your child’s doctor or health care provider to start a discussion on how to best help your child.

To learn more about the signs, symptoms of mental health problems in children check out these resources from the American Occupational Therapy Association. CLICK HERE


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