Mental illness can be very difficult to spot. Signs can easily be missed or misinterpreted. Adults can have a hard time explaining what’s wrong and recognizing the problem. So now imagine what it would be like for a child.
“It often comes out in children as behaviours,” says Jeff Carter, who is a psychologist who works with Vanier Children’s Services. “Once we dig into that, we find out that there is something underlying, that this behaviour is coming from somewhere.”
While it can be difficult to pinpoint the issue at hand, talk sessions about the child’s past can really help with the diagnosis. Factors throughout their childhood contribute to the severity of the illness, and finding the most impactful events can be very helpful in the diagnosis.
“Usually the first thing I do is that I ask the family about their history, because it can be genetic,” explains Carter. “Then I will ask about the child’s upbringing and what has happened in their life, since certain events can have a toll on children and could cause some form of mental degradation.”
Vanier Children’s Services helps out children in tough situations, and offers many programs to help youth in need. In order to access their services, you can call them at 519-433-3101, or drop by their office at 871 Trafalgar Street.