Children and mental health: What can you do to help your child?

September 13, 2018

By: Priscilla Q. Williams, RN
Author, Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Global Nurse

According to the Children’s Mental Health Report, mental health disorders are the most common diseases of childhood. An estimated 17.1 million children have or have had a psychiatric disorder more than the number of children with cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.

This is a major issue many parents don’t speak about. I recently had a chance to sit down and interview Ms. Kenyatta Williams, a licensed clinical social worker. Her educational and professional experience has included an eclectic approach to address the psychological and practical needs of children, adults, and families.

In an interview with Black, we learn the importance of getting your child help and different signs parents need to know if their child suffers from mental illness.

BDO: What has been your experience in working with children who have a mental illness?

KW: An area of my social work practice that has been a sacred place for me involves children with mental illness. During my career I have implemented many therapeutic interventions for children with mental illness which have included family therapy, play therapy, talk therapy, social skills groups, parenting classes/support groups and behavioral management techniques.

BDO: There are many signs of mental illness that parents may not notice, what are some signs parents should pay attention to with their children?

KW: One of the major concerns that some parents often deal with involves their children having mental health challenges. This includes depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, to name a few. It is important to recognize when your child has a change in behavior or seems to display emotional distress that may seem unusual for your child.

It is crucial for your child to be examined by a pediatrician to rule out any medical condition that may be contributing to behavioral changes. If your child’s pediatrician determines that there is no underlying medical condition, your pediatrician will likely refer your child to a mental health professional.

These are some behavioral changes to recognize that parents should be aware of; however, children may not display all these symptoms and some symptoms may be specific for a particular illness. It is also critical to be mindful of the duration of time that these symptoms are present. Typically, these symptoms are present two weeks or longer, but this may not always be the case.

• Sad or withdrawn from family or friends
• Crying excessively for no apparent reason
• Severe mood swings
• Fearful for no reason
• Angry outbursts
• Change in eating/sleeping habits
• Difficulty concentrating
• Change in academic performance

BDO: What resources are available for parents to help assist them with their child?

KW: Here are a few resources available for parents and their children. Some national agencies that are of great resources for self-education and local mental health resources and locations are:

BDO: How can people connect with you and what can people expect from you in the community?

KW: If you have questions or concerns that you would like further information about or to share your experience I can be contacted at my email: Godsfc16@ I am also looking to empower and educate the community about health and wellness.

In October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am hosting an event “I’m Every Woman – Kicking Fear”. This event will include education, information, and resources. The event will take place on October 28, 2018, in Northbrook, IL. For more information visit email, me at

Overall, get your child the help they need and don’t be afraid to take your child to see a healthcare professional. Your child deserves the help and support they need.