Many children and youth will exhibit some of the following characteristics and behaviours at various times during normal childhood development.

  • – getting significantly lower marks in school
  • – avoiding friends and family
  • – having frequent outbursts of anger and rage
  • – losing his or her appetite
  • – having difficulty sleeping
  • – rebelling against authority
  • – drinking a lot and/or using drugs
  • – not doing the things he or she used to enjoy
  • – damaging other people’s property
  • – worrying constantly
  • – experiencing frequent mood swings
  • – not concerned with his or her appearance
  • – obsessed with his or her weight
  • – lacking energy or motivation
  • – hitting or bullying other children
  • – attempting to injure him or her self

But these characteristics and behaviours may be signs of an underlying mental health disorder if they:

  • – are intense
  • – persist over long periods of time
  • – are inappropriate for the child’s age
  • – interfere with the child’s life.

Children and youth with the most serious mental health disorders, such as severe psychosis or schizophrenia may exhibit:

  • – distorted thinking
  • – excessive anxiety
  • – odd body movements
  • – abnormal mood swings
  • – acting overly suspicious of others
  • – seeing or hearing things that others don’t see or hear

Source: Children’s Mental Health Ontario