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Improving The Mental Health Of Children And Adolescents | Affinity Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, explains how poor mental health can affect the wellbeing of children and adolescents.


Around the world, 10% of children and adolescents suffer from a mental disorder, but the majority of them do not seek or receive treatment. Tragically suicide is the fourth highest cause of mortality in young people aged 15 to 19.


The implications of failing to address children’s and teenagers’ mental health and psychosocial development extend into adulthood, limiting prospects for leading fulfilling lives.


“When it comes to the mental wellbeing of children parents should be the first line of defence. However, not many parents recognise when their child is going through a mental health problem, and even if they do, few take it seriously,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

Learn More: Children’s Mental Health

What Is Pre-Teen and Teenage Mental Health?

Mental health is a term used to describe one’s social and emotional wellbeing. Because teens go through so many changes and challenges in such a brief period, adolescence can be a vulnerable phase for mental health disorders. All of this occurs when adolescent brains are still evolving.

Your love and support, as well as your child’s strong relationship with you, can have a direct and positive impact on his or her mental health. It may even lessen your child’s risk of developing mental health issues.

What Causes Children’s Mental Health Problems? 

Because there is no one cause of each single mental health disorder in children, it is useful to understand certain common risk factors that may increase a child’s likelihood of developing a mental health condition.  


The following are common risk factors:

  • Children with a family history of depression, such as parents who suffer from mental health issues
  • Children with poor self-esteem or a negative self-image
  • Children that have a history of child abuse
  • Children that have weak social skills or communication difficulties
  • Children who have dabbled with drugs or tobacco products
  • Children who have had a severe brain injury in the past
  • Children who reach puberty at a younger age
  • Children from single-parent families or who have experienced parental divorce
  • Children who grow up in a home where their parents use drugs

What Are the Signs that Your Child Needs Help?

It is natural for children and teenagers to experience negative moods, lack of ambition, and difficulty sleeping. These aren’t always symptoms of a mental health disorder. However, if you observe any of the following signs, and they persist for more than a few weeks, you should address the issue that your child may need help with.


Mental health warning indicators in children include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • A drop in school performance
  • Ongoing worries or fears
  • Aches and pains that don’t go away
  • Loss of appetite or being fussy with food
  • Problems fitting in at school or having a good relationship with other children
  • Aggressive or consistently disobedient behaviour
  • Refusing to leave their bedroom or engaging in family events
  • Having difficulty coping with everyday activities
  • Having difficulty sleeping

How To Improve Your Child’s Mental Health

Here are some suggestions for improving your child’s mental health and wellbeing:

  • Show your child love, attention, and concern.
  • Demonstrate an interest in what is going on in your child’s life. Recognise your child’s efforts as well as their positive qualities and accomplishments. Consider your child’s ideas and viewpoints.
  • Spend time together as a family and one-on-one with your child.
  • Encourage your child to share their feelings with you. Your child must understand that they do not have to go through things alone and that you can work together to discover answers to difficulties.
  • Address problems as they arise rather than allowing them to accumulate.

Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Mental Health?

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, you must address your concerns as soon as possible. Start by having an open conversation with your child. Explain to your child that even adults sometimes have issues that they can’t solve on their own. Tell your child that it’s normal for them to be anxious, stressed, or depressed.


Talking with your child about their feelings reassures them that they are not alone and that you care. Speak with your doctor or another health expert if you believe your child needs professional support.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products is designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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