Childhood and teenage years are when mental health is developed and patterns are set for the future. So a child with good mental health is much more likely to have good mental health as an adult, and to be able to take on adult responsibilities and fulfil their potential.
However, it is reported that 850,000 children and young people suffer from mental health problems (Young Minds, 2014). They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.
There are certain ‘risk factors’ that make some children and young people more likely to experience problems than other children, some of these factors include:
- having a long-term physical illness
- having a parent who has had mental health problems, problems with alcohol or has been in trouble with the law
- experiencing the death of someone close to them
- having parents who separate or divorce
- having been severely bullied or physically or sexually abused
- living in poverty or being homeless
- experiencing discrimination, perhaps because of their race, sexuality or religion
- acting as a carer for a relative, taking on adult responsibilities
- having long-standing educational difficulties