Children’s mental health is a critical aspect of their overall well-being, influencing their emotional, social, and academic development. As caregivers, parents, and educators, it’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in children and better understand how these challenges can impact the adults around them. Only then can we take proactive steps to change the narrative for both children and adults in improving mental health for all.

Here at Plus by APN, we’re here for the unique challenges that tending to children’s mental health entails. While we only offer mental health services to adults, we recognize that by educating adults about child mental illness, signs of mental burnout, and actionable steps for getting children and adults the help they need, we can make a difference for all those involved. By supporting caregivers, we can support more positive outcomes for children.

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Issues in Children

While eating proper nutrition and supporting a child’s physical development is important to their overall well-being, so is being attuned to their emotional deficiencies and/or needs. By watching out for the following signs and symptoms, we can become more aware of how our children may need more support from us and/or other mental health professionals.

Persistent Sadness or Mood Changes

Children experiencing prolonged periods of sadness, irritability, or mood swings may be struggling with underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Withdrawal from Activities

A sudden disinterest or withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities, hobbies, or social interactions can indicate emotional distress or social anxiety in children.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Insomnia, nightmares, or frequent disruptions in sleep patterns may signal underlying anxiety or stress in children.

Difficulty Concentrating

Persistent difficulties in focusing, completing tasks, or paying attention in school or at home could be indicative of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other mental health conditions.

Physical Complaints

Recurrent headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained physical symptoms may be manifestations of underlying emotional distress or anxiety in children.

Changes in Appetite

Significant changes in appetite, eating habits, or weight loss/gain without medical cause may be signs of emotional distress, behavior disorders, or eating disorders in children.

Excessive Worry or Fear

Children expressing excessive worry, fear, or panic attacks may be struggling with anxiety disorders.

Behavioral Changes

Aggressive behavior, temper tantrums, defiance, or frequent outbursts beyond what is typical for their age group may indicate underlying emotional or behavioral issues.

Difficulty Coping with Transitions

Children experiencing significant difficulty adapting to changes, transitions, or new environments may be struggling with anxiety or adjustment disorders.

Self-Harm or Suicidal Thoughts

Any signs of self-harm, suicidal ideation, or expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness in children require immediate attention and intervention from mental health professionals.

Getting Children with Mental Health Conditions Help: Actionable Steps

If you’ve identified one or more of the previous indicators of mental illness with a child that you know and/or care for, it’s important to take actionable steps to support their overall well-being. After all, children rely on the adults around them to make sure their most basic needs are being met, which includes their mental health needs. Below are some practical steps that adults can take to support a child’s mental health.

Recognize the Signs

First and foremost, you’ll want to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders in children and remain vigilant to any changes in behavior or mood. If you aren’t sure, you’ll want to ask the child’s pediatrician for further guidance and support.

Open Communication

You’ll also want to create a supportive environment where children feel comfortable discussing their feelings, concerns, or struggles without fear of judgment or reprimand. Without trust, it will be difficult to determine the underlying causes of a child’s distress.

Seek Professional Help

Consult with pediatricians, school counselors, or mental health professionals to assess and address a child’s mental health needs. Remember that you don’t need to know everything – you just need to reach out to the people who have the skills that you might be lacking.

Therapy Services

Consider therapy services such as counseling, play therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help children develop coping skills and manage their emotions effectively.

Medication Management

In some cases, medication may be prescribed by a healthcare provider to alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions in children. Ensure that their medication is administered correctly and under professional supervision.

Supportive Environment

Create a nurturing and supportive home environment that promotes emotional expression, resilience, and positive coping strategies for children. By teaching children about emotional regulation, they can learn to improve their mental health over time.

Encourage Healthy Habits

Promote regular exercise, healthy eating habits, adequate sleep, and relaxation techniques to support children’s overall well-being and mental wellness.

Collaborate with Schools

Work collaboratively with teachers, school counselors, and administrators to create a supportive educational environment for children with mental health needs.

Empower Children

Encourage children to actively participate in their treatment, express their needs, and advocate for themselves in school and social settings.

Monitor Progress

Regularly monitor and evaluate a child’s progress in managing their mental health and adjust treatment plans as needed with the help of healthcare professionals.

Impact of Children’s Mental Health on Parents/Caregivers

Mental health challenges are difficult for the children experiencing them and can also prove to be grueling to navigate for the adults responsible for their care. There are many ways that a child’s mental health might have an impact on their parent and/or caregiver.

Emotional Distress

Witnessing a child’s struggles with mental health can evoke feelings of guilt, helplessness, or worry in parents and caregivers, leading to emotional distress.

Strained Relationships

Managing a child’s mental health challenges may strain relationships within the family, leading to conflicts, misunderstandings, or feelings of isolation.

Financial Burden

Seeking professional help, therapy services, or specialized interventions for a child’s mental health issues can impose significant financial strain on parents and/or caregivers.

Workplace Stress

Balancing caregiving responsibilities with work commitments can exacerbate stress and impact job performance and satisfaction for parents and caregivers.

Social Isolation

Caregivers may experience social isolation or withdrawal from social activities due to the demands of managing a child’s mental health issues.

Physical Health Impacts

Chronic stress related to caregiving responsibilities can contribute to physical health problems such as fatigue, headaches, or weakened immune function in parents and caregivers.

Sleep Disturbances

Constant worry or caregiving responsibilities may disrupt sleep patterns, leading to sleep disturbances or insomnia in parents and caregivers.

Mental Burnout

The ongoing demands of supporting a child with mental health issues can lead to mental burnout, characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and decreased effectiveness in caregiving roles.

Impact on Siblings

Siblings of children with mental health issues may experience feelings of neglect, jealousy, or guilt, further complicating family dynamics and feelings of guilt from parents and caretakers.

Stigma and Shame

Parents and caregivers may experience stigma or shame associated with their child’s mental health issues, hindering their ability to seek help or support from others.

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Burnout in Adults

When an adult is in the middle of experiencing overwhelming burnout, they may not even recognize the signs or symptoms that indicate this is happening. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the different ways this can manifest in adults in order to seek help if needed. Below are some examples of how mental burnout may manifest in adults who are parents and/or caregivers to children with mental illness.

Chronic Fatigue

Persistent feelings of exhaustion or fatigue, even after adequate rest, may indicate mental burnout in adults.

Emotional Exhaustion

Feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed, or depleted of energy due to caregiving responsibilities or work-related stressors is a common sign of burnout.

Decreased Motivation

A loss of interest, enthusiasm, or motivation for activities that were once enjoyable or fulfilling may signal burnout in adults.

Increased Irritability

Adults experiencing burnout may exhibit heightened irritability, impatience, or short temper in response to minor stressors or frustrations.

Cognitive Impairments

Burnout can impair cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, or decision-making abilities, impacting work performance and daily functioning.

Physical Symptoms

Burnout may manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, gastrointestinal issues, or increased susceptibility to illness.

Reduced Productivity

Decreased efficiency, productivity, or effectiveness in work or caregiving roles may be indicative of burnout in adults.

Feelings of Detachment

Adults experiencing burnout may feel emotionally detached or disconnected from their work, relationships, or responsibilities.

Sleep Disturbances

Burnout can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep.

Loss of Satisfaction

A sense of disillusionment, cynicism, or dissatisfaction with work, caregiving roles, or life in general may accompany burnout in adults.

Supporting the Mental Well-Being of Children and Their Caregivers

We believe that supporting children’s mental health requires a holistic approach that addresses the needs of both the child and their caregivers. By recognizing the signs of mental health issues in children, understanding the impact it has on parents and caregivers, and taking actionable steps to get children and adults the help they need, we can create a supportive and nurturing environment where everyone can thrive.

It’s important to remember that prioritizing your own mental health is essential for providing effective support to children in need. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to seek help and support from mental health professionals who can help you carry the heavy load. Together, we can promote the mental health and well-being of children and their caregivers alike.

Prioritizing Mental Health: Therapy for Adult Caregivers of Children With Mental Illness

As caregivers, it’s essential to prioritize your own mental health and well-being while supporting children with mental health conditions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or emotionally exhausted, seeking therapy services can provide valuable support and guidance. Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. By supporting yourself, you can have a profoundly positive impact on a child’s mental health, as well.

Take the first step towards self-care and seek help from a licensed therapist or counselor who can offer personalized strategies for managing stress, coping with challenges, and fostering resilience in your caregiving role. Plus by APN offers both in-person and virtual therapy services for adults across the country, focusing on holistic healing interventions to facilitate sustainable, lasting results.

If you’re interested in learning more about Plus by APN’s therapy and additional mental health services, reach out today by calling 424.644.6486 or filling out the online contact form.


  • “Anxiety in Children.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • “Anxiety and Depression in Children.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 July 2023,,may%20be%20diagnosed%20with%20depression.
  • Bothe, Kathrin, et al. “Self-reported Changes in Sleep Patterns and Behavior in Children and Adolescents during COVID-19.” Scientific Reports, vol. 12, 2022, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • Burns, Ryan D., et al. “Adolescent Health Behaviors and Difficulty Concentrating, Remembering, and Making Decisions.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, vol. 15, no. 6, 2021, pp. 664-672, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • “Children and Mental Health: Is This Just a Stage?” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,,-Raising%20a%20child&text=Even%20under%20the%20best%20circumstances,attention%2C%20or%20interact%20with%20others. Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • “Finding Mental Health Care for Your Child.” NAMI, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • Garralda, M Elena. “Unexplained physical complaints.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 19,2 (2010): 199-209, vii. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2010.01.002
  • Halder, Susmita, and Akash Kumar Mahato. “Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Children and Adolescents: Challenges and Gaps in Practice.” Indian journal of psychological medicine vol. 41,3 (2019): 279-283. doi:10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_470_18
  • “How Can We Help Kids with Self-Regulation?” Child Mind Institute, 6 Nov. 2023,
  • Koutsimani, Panagiota et al. “Burnout and Cognitive Performance.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 18,4 2145. 22 Feb. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijerph18042145
  • Rubin, Kenneth H., et al. “Social Withdrawal in Childhood.” Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 60, 2009, p. 141, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • Predescu, Elena, and Roxana Sipos. “Self-Harm Behaviors, Suicide Attempts, and Suicidal Ideation in a Clinical Sample of Children and Adolescents with Psychiatric Disorders.” Children, vol. 10, no. 4, 2023, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • Schulz, Richard, and Paula R Sherwood. “Physical and mental health effects of family caregiving.” The American journal of nursing vol. 108,9 Suppl (2008): 23-7; quiz 27. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000336406.45248.4c
  • Tommasi, Marco, et al. “Connections between Children’s Eating Habits, Mental Health, and Parental Stress.” Journal of Obesity, vol. 2022, 2022, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • “Transitions and Change: Mental Health Parent Guide.” YoungMinds, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • “What Is ADHD?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Sept. 2023,,)%2C%20or%20be%20overly%20active.
  • What Is Burnout Syndrome (BOS)?, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • “What Is Play Therapy?” Center for Play Therapy, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.
  • “Where Do You Fall on the Burnout Continuum?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.