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Mental Health

Mental Health: Spotting the Warning Signs

Posted 05/07/2021 by Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Parent Resources, Our Experts
Resources in partnership with On Our Sleeves: The Movement for Children’s Mental Health

When talking to your child about mental health, it is important to know what warning signs to look for that indicate they may need additional support. Because every child is different, warning signs may look different from child to child. However, there are some common ones to pay attention to. If you notice these signs in your child, it is important to address it, and know when and how to get help. If you have doubts, talk with someone who has experience with addressing mental health concerns -- pediatrician, teacher, school counselor, religious or spiritual leader.

  • Changes in school performance or poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (e.g.. refusing to go to bed or school)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums or outbursts of anger
  • Any substance use
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Excessive complaints of physical ailments
  • Changes in ability to manage responsibilities - at home and/or at school
  • Withdrawal from activities they once loved
  • Persistent sadness and/or hopelessness
  • Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
  • Risky sexual activity
  • Intense fear

For more details on mental health concerns in your child, visit

If you have a concern about your child’s mental health, reach out to your child’s doctor first and they will make a referral to a mental health professional. If your child does not have a primary care doctor but is in need of mental health support, the websites listed below will help you find mental health resources in your area.

On Our Sleeves®
Mental Health America
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration

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