A rise in mental health conditions among young children.

The prevalence of some mental health conditions among young children has been increasing in recent years, and there are several factors that may contribute to this trend. One possible explanation is that increased awareness and understanding of mental health issues have led to more accurate diagnosis and reporting of these conditions. Additionally, changes in lifestyle, such as increased screen time and decreased physical activity, may contribute to the development of mental health problems in children. Other factors that may contribute to the increase in mental health problems among children include changes in family structure, stressors related to poverty, and exposure to traumatic events such as violence or family conflict.

While the exact reasons for the increase in mental health issues among young children are not fully understood, it is clear that there is a growing need for mental health services and support for children and their families. Early intervention and treatment can help prevent the development of more serious mental health problems and improve outcomes for children with mental health conditions.

Common mental disorders diagnosed among young children.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
ASD is a developmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, behavior, and sensory processing. It is called a “spectrum” disorder because it affects people differently and to varying degrees, ranging from mild to severe. The symptoms of ASD typically appear in early childhood, often before the age of three. Some common signs of ASD include difficulty with social interaction, delayed language development or lack of speech altogether, repetitive behaviors or routines, difficulty with nonverbal communication, and hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to sensory stimuli. People with ASD can lead fulfilling and productive lives with appropriate support and accommodations. With early intervention, many children with ASD can develop new skills and improve their social and communication abilities. We have a specialized team that supports children with autism spectrum disorder.

Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders in young children can look different from those in adults. Young children may have difficulty articulating their feelings and may not understand what is happening to them. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety in young children, which may include:

  • Excessive worry or fear: Young children with anxiety disorders may worry excessively about everyday things, such as going to school or being away from their parents.
  • Avoidance: They may avoid situations or activities that trigger their anxiety, such as social events or going to the doctor.
  • Physical symptoms: Young children with anxiety disorders may experience physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or nausea.
  • Behavioral changes: They may become irritable, clingy, or have trouble sleeping.
  • Perfectionism: Young children with anxiety disorders may have an intense fear of making mistakes or of not being perfect.
  • Separation anxiety: Separation anxiety is a common form of anxiety disorder in young children, where they experience fear or distress when separated from their parents or caregivers.

It is important to note that these symptoms alone do not necessarily mean a child has an anxiety disorder. It is recommended to consult a mental healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if a parent or caregiver is concerned about a child’s mental health.

Mood Disorders
Mood disorders, like anxiety disorders, can present differently in young children than they do in adults, and can be difficult to identify. These include conditions such as childhood depression and bipolar disorder, which can affect a child’s mood, behavior, and emotions. Some common signs and symptoms of mood disorders in young children may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness: Young children with mood disorders may appear sad or moody for extended periods, or they may become easily upset or cry frequently.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns: Mood disorders can affect a child’s appetite and sleep patterns, causing them to eat less or more than usual and have difficulty sleeping.
  • Decreased interest in activities: Children with mood disorders may lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed, and may not want to participate in social events or play with friends.
  • Irritability or aggression: They may become easily irritable or have frequent outbursts of anger or frustration, which can be out of proportion to the situation.
  • Low energy or fatigue: Children with mood disorders may lack energy and become easily tired, even with minimal activity.
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: In severe cases, children with mood disorders may express thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Again, it is important to note that these symptoms alone do not necessarily mean a child has a mood disorder and a proper diagnosis can be made by a qualified healthcare professional.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common neurodevelopment disorder that includes an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity that interferes with daily functioning or development. Those with ADHD may experience severe and frequent symptoms of inattention, unfocused motor activity, and impulsivity. The majority of children with ADHD are diagnosed during the elementary school years, but the symptoms can change over time as the individual ages. There are treatments available to reduce symptoms and improve functioning through medication and therapy.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a disruptive behavior disorder that commonly emerges during childhood and is characterized by a frequent pattern of anger, irritability and defiance towards authority. It can cause severe problems with relationships, social activities, and school due to the emotional and behavioral symptoms. As a parent, it can feel difficult and overwhelming to face ODD on your own. It’s important to reach out to a mental health professional, maintain positive parenting, and seek early treatment to help improve behavior and prevent the situation from getting worse.

Conduct Disorder
Conduct Disorder is a behavioral and emotional disorder that results in repetitive, disruptive and violent behavior. It is diagnosed in children and adolescents that repeatedly violate the rights of others and fail to follow social norms or rules. There are no definitive causes of conduct disorder but there are treatment options to help reduce the duration of symptoms. The severity of the disorder and whether or not a child receives treatment will heavily impact the length of time the symptoms affect the individual.

Kids Standing Above, Looking Down - Early Childhood Services

What to expect with our early childhood mental health support.

Early childhood services are offered to provide prevention and treatment geared toward your child’s developmental needs. We begin by assessing the skills and needs of the child. We use a multi-disciplinarian approach to gain perspective from everyone who is integral in their life. This includes family members, doctors and school staff along with other providers such as: daycare, speech occupational and physical therapists.

We provide a strength-based, developmentally appropriate treatment model that supports where your child is at in their growth. Typically, we work with children and families in their home and community settings to teach identified goals. It’s important we observe the young individual in their own environments. We’ll additionally work with parents, daycare providers and school staff members to educate and equip them to better meet the needs of the child. Our staff have a trusting connection with kids and families and can assist in developing the skills that you feel your child and family need to be successful.

Next steps for you and your child.

Early detection and treatment of these early childhood conditions can significantly improve a child’s prognosis and quality of life and we provide support, regardless of your ability to pay. If you feel you and your child would benefit from therapy, please give us a call. We’ll evaluate the challenges you’re both facing and connect your child with a therapist best equipped to help. Together you’ll establish goals for your child and develop a treatment plan to make life more enjoyable for your child and your family.

24/7 Crisis Resources

There will be no charge for you to reach out to any of these resources.



Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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