Affinity Health Talks About Children’s Mental Health Awareness
In honour of Children’s Mental Health Awareness, Affinity Health shines a spotlight on the importance of children’s mental health and why seeking the right support is essential to a child’s healthy development.
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week runs from February 3 to 9. This year’s theme is Express Yourself. The purpose of this week is to promote public awareness about the needs of children with mental illness and encourage those who need help to seek treatment.
A mental illness is a medical condition that can disrupt a person’s ability to function and interfere with one’s daily life. Common mental disorders among children may include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Depression and other mood disorders
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), mental health is not given the priority it deserves in South Africa, and there is very little research into mental health and service conditions.
It’s estimated that about 20 percent of children have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Sadly, many of these children fall between the cracks, and less than half do not receive needed mental health support.
As a result, mental health problems in children and teens are associated with tragic outcomes such as suicide, substance use, school dropout, and physical health problems.
Untreated mental illnesses impact not only the life of the child affected but also their friends and family, schools, and communities.
Affinity Health says it is more important now than ever that South Africans unite to address the prevalence of child and adolescent mental health problems and reduce the stigma faced by these young people.
“Research indicates that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, so it’s crucial for parents, teachers, and caregivers, to be aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illness in children,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
While children can develop the same mental health conditions as adults, their symptoms may be different. A few red flags that could indicate that your child may have a mental health disorder include avoiding social interactions, hurting oneself, talking about suicide, extreme irritability, anger, loss of weight, difficulty sleeping, headaches or stomach aches, difficulty concentrating, and avoiding or missing school, amongst several others.
“Mental health conditions in children are diagnosed and treated based on signs and symptoms and how the condition affects a child’s daily life, which is why it’s important that a professional makes a diagnosis,” says Hewlett.
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health aims to provide premier quality, affordable medical insurance to South Africans. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service when they are faced with injury or illness. We work to deliver innovative solutions that are simple, cost-effective, and proven, so our cover is structured to ensure that you get exactly what you need. For more information, follow us on Facebook, and Instagram.