Mental Illness in Kids: How to Spot the Signs and Ask for Help


But other times, the little girl talked about hurting herself or hurting others. Once, she hurt the dog, and Gallagher could hear the animal from down the street.

“One time we took her to the hospital, she said she wanted to jump out the window with her brother,” Gallagher said.

She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD soon after.

Today, Gallagher’s daughter is 11. She knows she has a mental illness and isn’t afraid to talk about it, though some days are easier than others, Gallagher said.

“On very bad days when she’s sad and upset, she’ll say, ‘Why is something wrong with me? Why am I different?’” Gallagher said. “But for the most part, she’s proud of who she is. She loves dolphins, she loves to sing and dance and do all the things all the other kids can do.

“Some kids have diabetes, and some kids have other illnesses,” Gallagher said. “This is just something different with her brain.”

Get more information about spotting the signs of mental illness and getting help from the National Institutes of Mental Health.

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