There is no single cause of mental health problems, but some things that may contribute include loss and grief, discrimination, alienation from school, violence, abuse and family difficulties.

The following are some signs of mental health problems in children and young people. If they last more than a few weeks, it may be time to seek professional help.

  • Inability to get along with other children
  • Marked fall in school work
  • Marked weight gain or loss
  • Changes in usual sleeping or eating patterns
  • Fearfulness
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness, fidgeting and trouble concentrating
  • Excessive disobedience or aggression
  • Crying a lot
  • Spending less time with or avoiding their friends
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Reluctance to go to school or take part in normal activities
  • Overuse of alcohol and other drugs
If children or young people have persistent thoughts about hurting themselves or wanting to die, they need urgent professional help.