Not just a phase: Five early warning signs of children's mental illness
TORONTO, May 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Parents are prepared to deal with their kids'
cuts and scrapes, but research shows they are largely unequipped to grapple
with or even identify possible mental health issues in their children.
In recognition of Children's Mental Health Awareness Week (May 5 to 11), the
RBC Children's Mental Health Project is launching Know the Signs, a national
campaign highlighting five early warning signs to help parents identify
possible indicators of childhood mental illness:
1. Mood changes/swings: Persistent sadness or withdrawal.
2. Anxiety: Frequent, prolonged worrying.
3. Sudden change in grades: Poor concentration can lead to anxiety
about going to school or a change in classroom success.
4. Heightened emotions: Exaggerated fear or anger for seemingly no
5. Behavioral changes or acting out: Out-of-character changes in
behavior or personality.
Kaitlin Hrudey, daughter of Kelly Hrudey former NHL goaltender and hockey
commentator, now 20, was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder eight years ago.
Learning how to manage Kaitlin's illness took time, with many sleepless nights
and struggles, but today, Kaitlin and Kelly are sharing their story for the
first time to help raise awareness and reinforce the importance of early
"You know your children. Even if they aren't telling you something's wrong, as
a parent, you instinctively know," said Kelly Hrudey. "We noticed changes in
our daughter's behavior but chalked it up to a 'stage'. I wish I had known the
warning signs to look for, so we could have recognized the problem earlier.
This is why awareness and early detection are so important."
According to Kaitlin, it's essential that parents and children have an open
dialogue: "When I was 12, I remember knowing something was wrong, but didn't
know what it was, which really scared me. I knew the right thing to do was to
tell my parents so we could get through this together."
Nearly one in five Canadian children and adolescents will be touched by a
mental disorder serious enough to cause social, emotional or academic
problems. This not the kind of struggle that children outgrow on their own: 70
per cent of adults with a mental illness first experienced symptoms as
children or youth(1).
"A child who seems to be going through a difficult phase could actually be
suffering from a treatable mental disorder, yet most affected children do not
get the help they need because parents don't recognize the warning signs,"
said Rona Maynard, mental health advocate and author of Silent Families,
Suffering Children and Youth, a white paper on the findings of the 2012 RBC
Children's Mental Health Project Parents poll.
Most parents know that mental illness touches everyone. According to the 2012
RBC Children's Mental Health Parents Poll, 57 per cent of respondents know of
an adult in their family with a diagnosed mental health condition, while 28
per cent are related to a diagnosed child. Despite that level of awareness,
the findings reveal that there's a clear disconnect between parents and
children in being able to talk about mental illness:
-- Most parents assume that if their child had a mental health
concern, either they or the other parent would be the first to
-- Among young people who have visited the Kids' Help Phone
website, friends were the confidante of choice (50 per cent),
with mom or dad a distant second.
-- Twenty per cent of youth would not confide in anyone.
-- Most parents would take a wait-and-see approach to symptoms
such as exaggerated fear, constant anxiety about going to
school, persistent sadness or moodiness and a sudden change in
Experts agree that the best solution is to raise awareness of the warning
signs among parents, and encourage open discussion with their children.
"Just admitting to your kids that you've had a bad day at work or are worried
about Grandma's health can be a conversation-starter," added Maynard. "By
talking about your own feelings, you're encouraging your child to open up.
You're boosting the odds that young people will get the help they need and
break the cycle of frustration."
About the RBC Children's Mental Health Project
The RBC Children's Mental Health Project is a multi-year philanthropic
commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce
stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about
children's mental health issues. Since 2008, RBC has donated more than $16
million to over 200 community-based and hospital programs across Canada and is
dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to trusted information and
resources when they need it.
About RBC's Commitment to Community and Sustainability
Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries operate under
the master brand name RBC. We employ approximately 80,000 full- and part-time
employees who serve more than 15 million personal, business, public sector and
institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 49 other
countries. RBC is recognized among the world's financial, social and
environmental leaders and is listed on the 2012 - 2013 Dow Jones
Sustainability World Index, the DJSI North American Index, the Jantzi Social
Index and the FTSE4Good Index. RBC is one of Canada's
Greenest Employers, one of Canada's 50 Most Socially Responsible Corporations
and among the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. Learn
more at www.rbc.com/community-sustainability.
RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations,
sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2012, we contributed more
than $95 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community
investments of more than $64 million and $31 million in sponsorships.
or to arrange an interview: Andre Roberts, RBC Communications, 416
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