In Summary
  • The mental illness can be caused by physical conditions such as bacterial or viral infection of the brain, physical accidents or assault to the head.

  • Others do not have a discernible physical effect on the brain but affect by changing chemicals in the brain leading to what is called functional mental disorders.

  • Do you have a question for Amani Counsellors? Please email: lifeandstyle@ke.nationmedia.com

Over the past few months, many people have watched with shock and disbelief as many young children committed suicide and crimes.

This has left many wondering what really is wrong with today’s children as they seem to be unstable compared to previous generations.

But the problem is not today’s children rather it is what could be causing the instability. For most parents they would shudder at the mere thought of their child battling a physical illness let alone a mental sickness such as depression or schizophrenia. But sadly for many parents, this is a reality they confront every day.

The fact that many children are battling psychological ill health is an emerging national issue that has been discussed in great depth. But what exactly is mental illness and what are the signs to look out for in our children? The term mental ill health is a broad term used to describe mental illness and mental health problems.

DEFINITION

A mental illness is a disorder that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional and social abilities.

The mental illness can be caused by physical conditions such as bacterial or viral infection of the brain, physical accidents or assault to the head according to Prof David Musymi Ndetei in his book Your A-Z on Mental Health.

Others do not have a discernible physical effect on the brain but affect by changing chemicals in the brain leading to what is called functional mental disorders.

It is mostly the functional mental disorders that are commonly expressed by seemingly ordinary people.

Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, so is mental disorder an illness of the mind that can affect the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of a person, preventing him or her from coping with the ordinary demands of life.

It is up to the adult in the child’s life to identify whether the child has a mental health concern or not. Unfortunately, most adults do not know the signs to look out for.

Children can develop the same mental problems as adults it is only that they express them differently as they have not yet developed the vocabulary to describe what they feel.

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