What Causes Children’s Mental Health Issues?

Children’s Mental Health is crucial. Healthy children reach emotional and developmental milestones essential for a well-rounded and happy life. These children can successfully utilize appropriate social skills and healthy coping behaviors when faced with life’s inevitable problems.

When a challenge arises, what does your child do? Does he or she shirk from it, turn to substances, or face it head-on? Your answer to this question can be telling about your child’s mental health.

Psychiatric treatment has made terrific advances when it comes to helping adults navigate their lives; but with children, not so much. For starters, it can be difficult to identify mental health issues in children because they – and their parents – are often not aware there is a problem.

Children’s Mental Health

Mental health disorders in children can affect the way they think, behave, manage their emotions, and cope with life’s challenges. Getting through the day can be very difficult for a child with psychological issues. They may be unable to complete school or land satisfying employment. If left unaddressed or untreated, mental health issues can prevent children from growing up into happy, well-adjusted adults.

The most common of these problems that affect children are anxiety disorders, behavior disorders, and neurological disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Causes of Mental Health Issues

So, what causes children’s mental health issues? Are they avoidable? Research suggests that mental health disorders are caused by a combination of factors, such as genes, biology, trauma, and a child’s environment.


Many mental disorders are inherited through the passing of genetic material from one’s parents. Just a few examples include bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and schizophrenia. But just because a parent has a particular disorder doesn’t necessarily mean it will be passed along and appear in a child. The reverse is true as well: a parent may carry a genetic variation indicating the likelihood of a particular mental health disorder and yet not exhibit it. In short, genes are usually just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to determining the cause of mental health issues in children.


Neurobiological disorders such as ADHD are due to an abnormality in brain function, which can alter a child’s thoughts, perception, and behavior. Family history (genes) is one reason for the abnormality, but other factors may be associated with it, including head trauma, premature birth, or even exposure to certain pesticides or other toxins.


Perhaps most intuitively, traumatic events or incidents can lead to mental health issues in children. For instance, children who are physically, sexually, or emotionally abused can suffer from arrested development, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. It is also common for these children to grow into adults who repeat the abuse they have experienced. Even nonabusive experiences, such as the death of a loved one, can have a traumatic effect on a child and affect their mental health and overall well-being.


A child’s environment may leave them susceptible to trauma or they may pick up on unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms. This can impact mental health and psychosocial health. Among the environments critical to a child’s healthy upbringing include the home, school, peers, family, and friends.

Treating Mental Health Illness in Children

Mental health treatment for children often involves a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and creative therapy. Creative therapy includes painting, drawing, and writing.

Childhood Mental Illness Treatment in Manhattan, New York

Our psychiatric mental health services at Metro Medical Direct cater to adults and children. We believe it is important to treat children early on to help them have a happy and healthy life – now and in the future.

For discreet psychiatric care right in the comfort of your Manhattan home, call Metro Medical Direct at (917) 484-2709 or request a consultation now. Our friendly staff is happy to assist you.

Also, check out Dr. Raymond’s Podcast The Psychology of it All here. Also available on Apple Podcasts.