Your Child's Mental Health: 12 Questions Every Parent Should Ask

12 questions to help assess whether your child might have a mental health problem.

Does my child...

  1. Often seem sad, tired, restless, or out of sorts?
  2. Spend a lot of time alone?
  3. Have low self-esteem?
  4. Have trouble getting along with family, friends, and peers?
  5. Have frequent outbursts of shouting, complaining, or crying?
  6. Have trouble performing or behaving in school?
  7. Show sudden changes in eating patterns?
  8. Sleep too much or not enough?
  9. Have trouble paying attention or concentrating on tasks like homework?
  10. Seem to have lost interest in hobbies like music or sports?
  11. Show signs of using drugs and/or alcohol?
  12. Talk about death or suicide?

If you answered yes to 4 or more of these questions, and these behaviors last longer than 2 weeks, you should seek professional help for your child.


    • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
      3615 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
      Washington, DC 20016-3007
      202-966-7300 or 800-333-7636
    • Anxiety Disorders Association of America
      8730 Georgia Avenue, Suite 600
      Silver Spring, MD 20910
    • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
      (formerly the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association)
      730 N. Franklin Street, Suite 501
      Chicago, IL 60610-3526
      312-642-0049 or 800-826-3632


  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
    Colonial Place Three
    2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
    Arlington, VA 22201-3042
  • National Institute of Mental Health
    6001 Executive Boulevard
    Room 8184, MSC 9663
    Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
    301-443-4513 or 800-421-4211
  • National Mental Health Association
    2001 N. Beauregard Street - 12th Floor
    Alexandria, VA 22311
    703-684-7722 or 800-969-6642

next: Can Parents Tell if Their Child is Mentally Ill?

Last Updated: 18 March 2016

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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