Child and Adolescent Guidance Clinic
Childhood is a circumscribed period of growth starting right from birth to puberty (birth – 10yrs), and adolescence is a transitional phase from childhood to adulthood (10-19yrs). These are critical stages of life, as rapid growth and brain development take place, they acquire cognitive and social-emotional skills that shape their future. The emotional well-being of children is just as important as their physical health.
Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with life and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults Worldwide, children constitute around 29.3% of an entire population, of which approximately 15–20% of children and adolescents are suffering from some form of mental disorder. Half of all the mental health conditions start by 14 years of age and suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19 year-olds.Alarmingly, however, 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
If left untreated, mental disorders can impede all aspects of health, including emotional well-being and social development, leaving young people feeling socially isolated, stigmatized, and unable to optimize their social, vocational, and interpersonal contributions to society.
Addressing mental health problems early in life can lead to improvements in social and behavioural adjustment, learning outcomes, and school performance.
The most common psychological problems seen in children and adolescents include :
- Developmental disorders (starting from birth -5yrs): These include Autism spectrum disorders, Intellectual disability, Learning , Speech and language disorders
- Behavioural disorders (occur throughout childhood): These include ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Conduct disorder, Oppositional defiant disorder, Adjustment disorders etc.
- Mood disorders: Depression and Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders (similar to those seen in adults): Generalised Anxiety, Panic attacks, Phobias, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dissociative and Somatoform disorders.
- Special symptoms : These include conditions like Enuresis and Encopresis, Sleep disorders, Eating disorders- Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge eating disorder.
- Addictions (seen in school-going children and adolescents): Behavioural addictions like internet & gaming, substance use disorders (alcohol, cannabis etc.).
- Psychotic disorders: Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder and Delusional disorder.
- Temperamental and behavioural disturbances: Arising due to stress at home, school and society.
- Psychiatric disorders associated with medical conditions.
Understanding child and teen mental health problems are complex. Our Child guidance clinic uses a comprehensive, integrated & multimodal approach that features experts from different areas to work with children. Through this exclusive team-based approach, your child gets global assessment of the problem, formulating a personalised treatment plan, appropriate parental counselling & evaluating progress on regular basis.
- A trained and experienced psychiatrist
- A qualified & experienced child clinical psychologist
- An experienced speech therapist
- A qualified occupational therapist &
- A special educator
- Evaluation: Medical and Psychological assessment by a psychiatrist.
- Assessment by a clinical Psychologist such as IQ, questionnaires for developmental disorders, diagnostic psychometry, personality inventory etc.
- Hearing, speech and language evaluation.
- Evaluation for sensory issues & hyperactivity.
- Assessment of skills, intellectual ability and learning disabilities
- Pharmacotherapy for medical and psychological disorders when needed.
- Psychotherapy: Play therapy, cognitive therapy, behaviour therapy, individual therapy, parental counselling, applied behaviour analysis etc.
- Behaviour modification and skills training
- Remedial training and special education
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and language therapy is an approach enabling rehabilitation of physical/cognitive deficits or disorders resulting in difficulty in communication (expressive or receptive) and social interaction. This includes both speech(articulation, intonation, rate, intensity) and language (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, both receptive and expressive languages, including reading and writing). With the help of this therapy, children learn to emote, enact and speak their minds effectively and comprehensively. Any child who presents with unclear speech, fluency, resonance, breathing problems, weak oral muscles, swallowing issues and communication issues will benefit from speech and language therapy.
- Occupational therapy helps kids improve their physical, psychological and psychosocial status by restoring and enhancing the performance of skills which are essential for leading an independent lifestyle. It helps kids play, improve their school performance and aids their daily activities. With OT, they develop fine-motor skills Improve eye-hand coordination.
- Master basic life skills like bathing, brushing, eating, dressing, undressing etc.
- Learn positive behaviours and social skills
There can be many reasons why your child has delayed speech.Few conditions which account for speech delay include neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder,global developmental delay,communication difficulties linked to hearing impairment,speech articulation problems etc. Hence a thorough evaluation by a speech therapist is required to find the cause,come to a diagnosis and offer therapy.
In general, consider seeking help if your child’s behaviour persists for a few weeks or longer; causes distress for your child or your family; or interferes with your child’s functioning at school, at home, or with friends. If your child’s behaviour is unsafe, or if your child talks about wanting to hurt themselves or someone else, seek help immediately.
Young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
• Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable most of the time.
• Often talk about fears or worries.
• Complain about frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause and refuse to go to school.
• Are hyperactive and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing video games)
• Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares, or seem sleepy during the day
• Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends
• Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades
• Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen
Older children and adolescents may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
• Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy previously
• Have low energy
• Sleep too much or too little or seem sleepy throughout the day
• Are spending more time alone and avoid social activities with friends or family
• Diet or exercise excessively, or fear gaining weight
• Engage in self-harm behaviours (such as cutting or injuring themselves)
• Smoke, drink, or use drugs
• Engage in risky or destructive behaviour alone or with friends
• Have thoughts of suicide
• Have periods of highly elevated energy and activity and require much less sleep than usual
• Say that they think someone is trying to control their mind or that they hear things that other people cannot hear
A mental health professional will make the diagnosis by taking a detailed family history, child’s developmental history, parenting styles that are employed ,his/her temperamental traits , current symptoms and problem behaviours. Standardized testing may also be done.they will then analyze all of the information, If certain diagnostic criteria are met, he or she will make a diagnosis. These are based on the child’s age, history from parents and other caregivers and psychological reports when done .
Sometimes psychotherapies, behavioral strategies, classroom strategies, and family support may be all a child needs. In other cases, medicines are needed to help the child cope. If medicine is prescribed, the child should be watched and evaluated regularly.If your child’s mental health problems directly interfere with school performance,special education maybe considered.
When untreated, mental health disorders can lead to school failure, drug abuse, violence, and even suicide.Most children who receive the right kind of help get better. They go on to live full and healthy lives as adults. Getting help early is key to a positive result.