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Helping parents talk about their child's mental health

Recently the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has spoken out about the need for more mental health services for children. This month, she helped to launch a children’s mental health podcast that aims to help parents address these issues by providing them information and resources to care for their child’s mental health.

Mental health concerns often are identified during visits with pediatricians and other primary care providers.  Providers ask certain questions about behavior and emotions, targeted to the child’s age, but also rely on parents to identify concerns about how children act outside of the doctor’s office. However, it can be challenging for parents to recognize their child’s behavior patterns and understand what kinds of behaviors should be shared with the child’s health care provider.

In a 2015 NPCH Report, over 60% of parents would definitely talk with the doctor if their school-age child seemed extremely sad for more than a month. Only half of parents said they would definitely discuss temper tantrums or anxiety with their doctor, and just over one third said they would discuss trouble organizing schoolwork. Believing that children’s behavior and emotions  are not medical problems was the most common reason parents would not discuss these topics.

Figure 1. Proportions of parents who would definitely talk to the doctor about child's behavior and emotions

View full size image | View more children's health infographics

What do you think?
When you take your child to the doctor, do you share information about the child's behavior and emotions? Why do you think parents don't view these as medical concerns? Share your thoughts in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.