Sometimes it's hard to know what is normal development for a child and when behavior becomes something to be concerned about. Fortunately, there are ways to learning what could be happening and how to help.
If a child shows possible symptoms of a mental health problem, a diagnostic assessment may be in order.
A mental health professional interviews the child or family to gather information, such as:
Effects of symptoms on functioning in home, school and community
Onset, frequency, duration and severity of current symptoms
History of current mental health problem (developmental incidents, strengths, stressors, etc.)
Relevant family and social history
The diagnostic assessment is usually the first step in deciding whether and what treatment is necessary.
A mental health or developmental screening can help to identify early potential mental health problems. This usually results in referrals to a mental health professional for further evaluation.
There are a many types of screenings that target certain ages or circumstances related to the mental health of children and youth. These include: