Mental Illness & Children

by Lisa Frederiksen

According to a recent tweet by NAMIMass (National Alliance of Mental Illness Massachusetts), 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, 75% by age 24. As mental illness is one of the key risk factors for developing a substance abuse problem and/or an addiction to alcohol or drugs, I wanted to use this post to raise awareness about childhood mental illness.

According to WebMD’s Mental Illness in Children, “[i]dentifying mental disorders in children can be tricky for health care providers. Children differ from adults in that they experience many physical, mental, and emotional changes as they progress through their natural growth and development. They also are in the process of learning how to cope with, adapt, and relate to others and the world around them. Further, each child matures at his or her own pace, and what is considered ‘normal’ in children falls within a wide range of behavior and abilities. For these reasons, any diagnosis of a mental disorder must consider how well a child functions at home, within the family, at school, and with peers, as well as the child’s age and symptoms.” WebMD’s Mental Illness in Children provides a wealth of additional information on this very important issue, including:

•  How Mental Illness in Children is Diagnosed
•  How It is Treated
•  Side Effects of Medications
•  Outlook for Children with Mental Health Disorders
•  Research Being Done

Doctors, teachers and others who work with children to screen for mental disorders in children now have a “powerful, evidenced based screening tool” – The Reach Institute’s “Action Signs,” which was recently endorsed for wording and use by the Center for Mental Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Click the following link to download: Action! Signs Toolkit

Additionally — all concerned should bookmark the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)’s site for Child and Adolescent Mental Health — a tremendous resource on so many levels.

Related Post to the Role of Mental Illness as a Risk Factor for Substance Abuse / Addiction:

Secondhand Drinking/Drugging (SHDD): Understand It, Prevent It and We Can Go a Long Ways to Reducing Underage Drinking; Addiction

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Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at
Lisa is the author of nine books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!", and is a national keynote speaker, consultant and founder of She has spent more than 12 years researching, writing, speaking and consulting on substance misuse prevention, intervention and treatment; mental illness; addiction as a brain disease; effective co-occurring disorders' treatment; secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family and related subjects – all centered around 21st century brain and addiction-related research. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.

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