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Battling mental illnesses in children

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:51 PM CDT
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TRUMANN, Ark. (KAIT) - Children across the U.S. are battling mental illnesses, and it’s a trend that is no stranger here in Northeast Arkansas.

When it comes to knowing when a child is dealing with something out of their control, Dr. Dana Watson of Families Inc. in Trumann said it’s not that simple.

“Sometimes it’s pretty hard to spot changes,” she said. “You know because they are teenagers, so they don’t really give off a lot of vibes at all.”

Watson said there are steps families can take when they notice their children might be going through something.

“You can do really anything as long as it’s as a family,” she said. “You know a lot of times the activities your already doing can be transformed into quality time.”

A study from the American Academy of Family Physicians shows about 7.7 million children between the age of 6 and 17 have a type of treatable mental illness like depression, anxiety, or ADHD.

Watson said there are prescriptions that help, but she encourages parents to make sure their kids are active.

“Number one, first and foremost, is physical activity,” she said. “You know, any kind of [activity], getting out of the house and putting all the electronics down.”

Watson stressed social media plays a part in the rising numbers, as children from ages 12 to 17 are 65% more likely to have a mental illness, according to the AAFP.

“Just putting the phone down and getting outside is defiantly the first prescription I would write,” Watson said. “The burden we place on our children is really heavy.”

She added it’s important to make sure a child knows you care and to provide them with help if they need it.

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