Today is Children’s Mental Health Day. This year, the emphasis is on increasing the awareness of bullying and its negative effects on school-age children.
Many times, these children complain of stomach pains and headaches and often miss school. Missed school days can lead to decreased academic achievement, resulting in low self-esteem. If the bullying goes on for an extended period of time, the child might skip or drop out of school.
Bullying is associated with depression and anxiety. Children who experience bullying at school or through the Internet have increased feelings of sadness and loneliness. Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of depression become evident with prolonged assaults of bullying. Changes in sleep can include insomnia or an increased desire to sleep the day away. Depression also leads to a loss of energy and a loss of interest in activities they use to enjoy.
Eating patterns also can be disrupted. Some children complain of a lack of appetite and ongoing stomach aches and some experience gastrointestinal disorders. Other children cope with depression and anxiety by overeating, leading to weight gain, which affects self esteem.
Suicidal ideation can be the outcome of bullying. Death by suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds. Chronic hopelessness and helplessness, which can be the result of bullying, are common symptoms associated with suicide. The risk of suicide is especially concerning for children with special needs, including those with developmental disabilities and physical impairments. In addition, adolescents with issues pertaining to sexual orientation have a higher rate of suicide than their heterosexual peers. Suicidal ideation and gestures might go unrecognized by peers, teachers and school counselors.
If you are interested in learning more about depression, anxiety and suicide, please call the Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance at (785) 242-3780 to inquire about our 12-hour Mental Health First Aid course. It is free to the public. The course is a fun, educational opportunity to understand other risk factors associated with suicide, as well as how to address mental health crises in the community.
— Diane Drake,
Elizabeth Layton Center
for Hope and Guidance