UAE expert urges parent to keep an eye on children’s mental health
ABU DHABI // Taking care of your children’s mental health is as important as their physical health.
This is the opinion of Dr Fareeha Amber Saqiq, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Camali Clinic.
She said parents should help their children to develop a positive mental attitude, which will support their development into adulthood and minimise the effect of later problems.
“Children and young people are all different and have their own thinking styles and ways of coping, which can be influenced by their temperament, family situation and life experiences,” she said.
“By promoting good mental health, we hope that we can raise awareness that children, young people and families can make choices to improve their lives and ultimately their well-being.”
While many problems may be caused by genetic reasons, sometimes stress or trauma can bring mental-health problems, so early assessment and intervention are crucial.
“The earlier the identification of emotional regulation or social relationship problems for a child, the earlier the help can be provided,” Dr Sadiq said. “Both research and experience has shown that this can lead to better outcomes for the child and their family.”
Children who show signs of mood changes, poor concentration, disturbed sleep and impaired appetite need to be addressed and understood.
Such issues could indicate underlying emotional problems, Dr Sadiq said, and guardians must identify whether the child has a mental health concern.
“If negative feelings continue to persist over a couple of weeks or there is a significant deterioration in the child or young person’s functioning, then this should raise the parents to consider what their child might be experiencing and ways to support them,” she said.
Children can suffer from anxiety based disorders, attachment difficulties, autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Mental illness can also present with physical symptoms, said Dr Sadiq.
“For example, low mood and anxiety may present itself as headaches or abdominal aches in younger children,” she said.
Early intervention with the help of specialists can ease the load on parents in dealing with such issues, as well as provide a better outcome for the child’s stability.
Treatments such as psychological therapy, family therapy or medication in the form of antidepressants and mood stabilisers are all known to help.
Updated: October 22, 2014 04:00 AM