Healthy Mind Healthy Child: Article by Dr Emad Farrag, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Article written by Dr Emad Farrag, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist for the School and Nursery Education Guide 2019.

The stress associated with achieving academic results as well as fitting in with peers affects all age ranges. The pressures on our children to achieve academically (both from schools and from parents) is seen increasingly in a time when academic results seem to define and determine our children’s future.

In countries with a high number of expats such as the UAE, the majority of children tend to attend private schools’ where academic excellence is emphasized. Due to this, we need to be mindful how much this can affect the child, and in turn their mental health and overall well being.

Each child is unique, and they all have different ways to absorb, process information and learn. They are also unique in their personalities and in turn how they fit into the wider school community. However, it is important to be able to recognize early on if your child faces difficulties at school.

The reason for these difficulties may be due to a neurodevelopmental condition such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism to name a few.

It may also be because of anxiety or depression, which in turn can affect both learning as well as the social aspect of a child’s life. These disorders can have a significant impact on the child’s life if not recognised and managed early on. This is why mental health professionals’ stress on raising more awareness on these topics, so parents and schools alike can recognize the early signs and symptoms and get the professional help and advice their child needs.

Dealing with mental health problems in a child can also be very stressful for the family as a whole and with the right help and advice from mental health professionals; the impact on the family can be reduced.

Early detection and intervention are key in order to help children and adolescents manage their emotions better, and build resilience. By doing so, we are giving the child the best possible chance to achieve their full potential in life.

If your child’s mental health condition is affecting their functioning at school or overall well being, your first step should be to approach the appropriate mental health specialist service to explore this further.