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7 signs your child could be experiencing a mental illness

As a young parent in Kenya, it's crucial to be well-informed about the signs of mental illness in children.

A woman holding hands with her daughter while sitting on couch [Photo: Kampus Production]

The earlier you detect and address any issues, the better the outcomes for your child.

Here are some of the warning signs to look out for.

Just like how the rains at times arrive unexpectedly, a sudden decline in your child's school performance can be an unexpected sign.

If your child, who once loved Kiswahili or Math, now struggles or seems disinterested, it might be worth looking into.

Remember the joy of playing 'blada' or 'kati' with friends? Social connections are vital for children.

If your child starts avoiding playtime, family gatherings, or becomes more isolated than before, it could be a red flag.

Whether it's the rooster crowing in the village or the early morning hustle and bustle of Nairobi, our days start early.

If your child has trouble sleeping, has nightmares, or sleeps too much, it could indicate an underlying issue.

Imagine the weather transitioning from the sunny beaches of Mombasa to the chilly evenings of Limuru in a day!

If your child’s mood swings are just as drastic and frequent, it’s essential to address it.

If the hustle of a local market suddenly overwhelms your child, or they become too sensitive to sights, sounds, or feelings, it might indicate heightened anxiety or sensory issues.

A child who suddenly becomes aggressive, like a provoked buffalo or starts throwing tantrums frequently might be signaling emotional distress.

Just as our bodies might react with a fever when battling the flu, sometimes mental distress in children can manifest as headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained aches.

If you've noticed any of these signs, remember – it's like realizing it's about to rain and you've forgotten your umbrella. Don't panic, instead:

  1. Open Communication: Sit down with your child. Engage them in a friendly chat, perhaps over a cup of warm uji. Listen without judging.
  2. Seek Guidance: Consult school teachers or counselors. Their perspective can offer insights into any behavioral changes they’ve noticed.
  3. Professional Help: Consider seeking help from a psychologist or therapist. They can provide expert guidance tailored for your child's needs.

Understanding the signs of mental illness and being proactive is a step towards ensuring a healthy life for our young ones.

Remember, like the rich tapestry of our Kenyan culture, every child is unique. Embrace their individuality, and with love and understanding, we can guide them through their challenges.

Editor's Note: Mindful Kenya offers mental health services on short USSD code *702*30#. By following the prompts a person seeking professional mental healthcare is linked with a specialist under a guarantee of anonymity.

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