Two adults holding hands of one child, all on couch, speaking to a person with pen and paper

1 in 4 children will have a mental illness during childhood1.

Children, just like adults, can and do live with symptoms of mental health conditions. National statistics show that one out of four children will have a mental illness during childhood. As adults, we can pay close attention to a child’s mood, emotions, and behaviors to know when they may need mental health assistance. Children diagnosed and treated early are more likely to have a better quality of life at home and in their communities.

Symptoms can be hard to notice in children, since they do not always look the same as in adults. Often, symptoms of mental health conditions manifest in children as changes in behavior because young children are not as able to articulate with their words how they are feeling or what they are thinking.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Conditions in Children

  • Nightmares
  • Violent/Aggressive behavior
  • Frequent temper tantrums not typical for their age
  • Change in school performance
  • Bed wetting when previously toilet trained/ beyond typical age
  • Excessive worry/avoidance of life activities
  • Excessive defiant/disobedient behavior

While these are some common symptoms, not all children will have the same symptoms. It is important to notice changes from a child’s typical behaviors.

Child Abuse

Child abuse includes four major categories: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of the various types of child abuse. If you suspect any form of child abuse, it is Texas law to report it in order to keep the child safe [Texas Family Code Section 261.101 (a)]. Failure to report suspected child abuse is a criminal offense.

If you suspect child abuse is happening, please report to Department of Family Protective Services by calling the 24-hour, toll-free abuse hotline at 1-800-252-5400 from anywhere in the United States to report abuse or neglect that happened in Texas. You can also report online.

Additionally, you may call the National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4-A-Child (800-422-4453).


  1. CDC – Children’s Mental Health.

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