Mental health in children and adolescents: Focusing on early intervention prevention and effective counselling strategies for children and adolescents

According to W.H.O. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.  Being mentally healthy includes reaching developmental milestones age appropriately along with emotional milestones. It also includes learning social skills and coping strategies to face problems as well as challenges.

To lead a mentally healthy life is important for physical health, too. Mentally healthy children perform well in academics and maintain cordial relationships with parents, friends, and relatives as well. They are more likely to succeed in life in spite of challenges and problems. When children learn maladaptive behaviors, it becomes difficult for them to cope with problems and situations. Parents also play a vital role in children and adolescents maintaining healthy lives mentally and physically. They should also develop trustworthy relationships with their children, which help to sustain relationships and create a supportive home

environment which is a basic need to proceed successfully in life.

Early detection of mental disorders has many advantages. It helps children to cope with their challenges, their academic performance does not become profoundly difficult, and they learn about their illness and master it. also, early intervention does not let the disorder progress and worsens it for children and their families.  It also helps to maintain quality of life. Parents also play a vital role in keeping children and adolescents mentally healthy. Before admitting children to school, parents should always be in touch with doctors and follow their advice. Whenever suggested, they should seek help from mental health professionals, too. Instead of neglecting their advice, they should also maintain regular check-ups. They should not hide anything from doctors. Parents should also be aware of the warning signs of mental health conditions in children and adolescents like poor eye contact, poor socio-emotional reciprocity, poor communication pattern, hand flapping, reduced attention and concentration, sudden anger outbursts, increased irritability, poor academic performance, difficulty in schools and homes with friends and family members, tendency to defy or argue with elders, deficits in self-help and social skills and social isolation. Parents should immediately inform the doctors and seek help from mental health professionals without any shame or guilt as it is not their fault that their children are suffering from mental disorders but it is their duty to prevent the disorder from progressing and worsening the situation.

Parents should also be in touch with the school teachers and school counselors to gather information about their children’s behavior and help them to bring positive changes and improvements in them which is important for their future career planning. Parents nurture children at home so they should develop trustworthy and close relationships with their children, good communication patterns and interaction patterns, a peaceful home environment, avoid comparison which leads to critical comments, encourage children in social relationships, teach healthy habits and reinforce positive responses too. Along with children mental health in adolescents is important to focus on as Adolescence is a difficult phase of life physically and mentally. Body changes often disturb adolescents as they are not aware of them. Parents should inform them before hand so that they do not have problems understanding that body changes are natural and happen to everyone. It is not limited to anyone adolescents. Parents should motivate adolescents to keep trying their best academically and in other fields. Also when adolescents fail to achieve their goals and dreams, they start suffering from identity crisis. It is the duty of parents then to support them emotionally and financially if required. Adolescents also suffer from mental disorders like anxiety, depression, personality issues, eating disorders, substance abuse and other mental issues. Inability to achieve their goals leads to poor self esteem reduced confidence and poor body image. If they can master their skills, achieve their goals they do not have any problems in future and in selection of career. Researches done in India indicate the increasing burden of mental health problems among this population is a growing concern globally . Most mental disorders begin before 25 years of age, more often between 11–18 years. The burden associated with common mental disorders (depressive and anxiety disorders) rises in childhood and peaks in adolescence and early to middle age

(10–29 years) . A meta-analysis estimated that the global prevalence for any mental disorder among children and adolescents is 13.4%. Multiple factors are associated with poor mental health among adolescents, including domestic violence, child abuse, bullying, peer pressure, substance abuse, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and teenage pregnancy. Transition through stressful and unhealthy adolescence with a high burden of mental disorders can impact their health and wellbeing later in life . Hence, investment in adolescents delivers a

“triple dividend”—improving their health now, enhancing it throughout life, India is home to the largest number of adolescents globally, comprising about a fifth of its population (243 million). India has the highest youth suicide rate globally, and suicide is the leading cause of mortality in this population. The National Mental Health Survey (2015–2016) reported a 7% prevalence of psychiatric disorders in 13–17 years and was nearly equal among both the genders. The overall impact of mental illnesses on society is enormous, and the awareness about the severity of mental health diseases is very poor. It is critical to note that the economic burden of mental health disorders outweighs other noncommunicable diseases. It can be as high as 4% of the gross national product, among which only 2% has been accounted for by treating mentally unhealthy people in developing countries. The overall treatment gap for mental health disorders in India is as high as 90%.

Treatment plans or effective and strategies to deal with mental health issues.

  • Cognitive behavior therapy explores the connection between thoughts, feelings and actions. It challenges negative automatic thoughts and cognitive errors to replace them with adaptive behaviour and realistic thinking

. It is helpful for children and adolescents when they have to deal with anxiety, impulsivity depression and other mental issues.

  • Behaviour therapy is helpful in treating externalizing disorders like ADHD and conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. It teaches parents to reinforce adaptive, age-appropriate, acceptable and socially desirable responses to sustain them. It also helps parents to deal with behavioral excess, behavioral deficits and socially unacceptable behaviors or responses.
  • Family therapy helps parents to educate them about their children’s illnesses so that they do not have any problems understanding them and the needs attached to their families. Also, the goals of family therapy are to improve communication patterns among family members, teach proper problem-solving skills, handle special family situations, and create a better supportive home environment.
  • Group therapy also helps children to communicate and explore their emotions with their age mates, which is

effective for them to deal with stressful situations in the future. Adolescents can also communicate their feelings and emotions in a way that can help them become stable while also understanding their behavior’s impact on others and getting feedback too. Also, they can get support, which helps them gain confidence.

  • Apart from the above-mentioned therapies, art therapy, play therapy, and occupational therapy are also available, which are helpful for pervasive developmental disorders and ADHD


  • Whenever a therapist is ready to apply any therapy for his/her clients, he/she should give them unconditional positive regard, maintain eye contact, and listen actively while being non-judgmental, which makes the clients feel they are wanted and heard. Therapists should also develop good rapport, which is a trustworthy relationship between the therapist and the client. It also helps in bringing out positive results after the treatment procedure