top of page
Filling Out Form
Requires a diagnosis by a licensed mental health or medical provider

Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviors, social skills, and regulations of emotions. Affects a child’s ability to function well at home, in school or in other social situations

1 in 5

As in adults, 1 in 5 children are affected by mental health issues


37% of students with a mental health condition age 14+ dropout of school

1 in 10

More than 1 in 10 children ages 3-17 - living in North Carolina had a diagnosis of depression or anxiety in 2020 – a 49% increase from 2016


Adolescent Development

  • Development changes during puberty

  • Development of one’s own identity

  • Growing independence from family

  • Feelings of being invincible

  • Strong influences on peers

  • Beginning of abstract thinking

Child Development Traits

  • Thinking is typically concrete

  • Attachment - feelings of security versus feelings of insecurity

  • Emotional processing – ranges from noticing emotions to expressing emotions to learning to manage emotions

Major Mental Disorders in Children/Adolescents

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with daily life or typical development. Duration of symptoms must be present for at least six (6) months

May also have difficulties with the following:
  • Maintaining attention

  • Executive functioning (thinking, reasoning, consequences, etc.)

  • Organizing, beginning and managing an activity or task

  • Working (short-term) memory

Child Activity
Major Mental Disorders in Children/Adolescents

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Causes serious problems with family life, school and work, marked by frequent disobedient behavior to authority figures and can include behaviors such as being spiteful and revenge seeking. Duration of symptoms must be present for at least six (6) months.

Other behaviors/symptoms include:
  • Often being angry, losing one’s temper easily

  • Arguing with adults or refusing to comply with their rules

  • Annoying others deliberately; becoming annoyed with others

  •  Blaming other people for one’s own mistakes or misbehavior

Major Mental Disorders in Children/Adolescents

Conduct Disorder

Antisocial behavior in children, disregard for basic social standards and seriously impairs family life, school, work, daily living. Duration of symptoms must be present for at least six (6) months

Main groups of conduct disorder include:
Aggressive conduct

Intimidating behavior, bullying, cruelty to animals/others, using a weapon, forcing someone into sexual activity, rape, molestation


Lying, theft, shoplifting, delinquency

Destructive conduct

Intentionally destroying property, committing arson, etc.

Violation of Rules/Age-Appropriate Norms

Truancy, running away, pranks, mischief, very early sexual activity

Child on Smartphone
Major Mental Disorders in Children/Adolescents

Depression in Children/Teens

Persistent feelings of sadness and loss of ability to function in school or interact with others.

Symptoms of depression may include:
  • Have frequent and unprovoked sadness

  • Complaining frequently about pain such as stomach and headaches

  • Noticeable increase in the amount of sleep

  • Difficulty concentrating that is age-appropriate

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Feeling hopeless and worthless

  • Increased irritability

  • Difficulty communicating or maintaining age-appropriate relationships/friendships

  • Eating too much or too little

  • Little energy and no interest in activities they once enjoyed

  •  Social isolation

  • Substance use

  • Obsessive fears or worries about death

  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-harming behavior

Major Mental Disorders in Children/Adolescents

Anxiety in Children | Teens

Persistent fears, persistent worries. The persistent fears, worries are intense and disrupts their ability to:

  • Participate in school

  • Participate in play

  • Participate in age-appropriate social situations

Symptoms of anxiety include:
  • Fear of being away from a parent

  • Extreme fear about a specific thing such as dogs, insects or going to the doctor

  • Worrying about the future and about bad things happening

  • Physical symptoms of panic such as sweating or dizziness;  trouble breathing; heart pounding

  • Refusal to go to school or take part in school activities

  • Worry that a parent or loved one may die

Diagnosis of anxiety disorders may include:
Social Anxiety
Generalized Anxiety
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD)
Mother Daughter Portrait

Take it Seriously

As a parent or guardian, if you think your child is showing any of the signs/symptoms of a mental health disorder, take it seriously, and talk to a healthcare provider.  Start with your child’s pediatrician or family doctor. Your child’s healthcare provider may make a referral to a mental health professional for a more detailed evaluation.
In addition to seeking help for your loved one, below are some things you can do -- as a parent, guardian, care provider -- to help improve your child’s mental health by ensuring they get:


  • Daily exercise

  • Safe, supportive environment at home and school

  • Plenty of sleep

  • Well-balanced meals

For more information on mental health issues affecting children/adolescents visit:

bottom of page