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Tampa psychologist gives parents tips on how to identify mental health issues in children

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Posted at 6:27 AM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 07:12:08-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The CDC recently launched a study to find out how many K-12 students had specific mental disorders.

They examined mental health symptoms in four different U.S. school districts.

Based on teacher and student reports, the results showed about one in six students have enough behavioral or emotional symptoms and impairments to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder.

“This expectation, this high achievement pressure that children are feeling now is going to increase their sense of anxiety,” said Psychologist Dr. Sheriece Sadberry.

Experts say there are specific symptoms to look out for.

“With young kids, it’s really hard to tell because they can’t articulate what’s going on for them,” said Sadberry.

She recommends parents remember the acronym “PIECES” when observing their kids.

  • P: Physiological symptoms like unexplained stomach aches or headaches
  • I: Increased irritability
  • E: Expressing fears or worries
  • C: Change in sleep, like if your child is sleeping more or less and having nightmares
  • E: Elevation in energy, more restlessness than usual
  • S: Social interaction changes, if your child is more socially isolated and isn’t as interested in playing with friends

“Those would be the main things that we look for in changes in a young child’s behavior to say, okay there’s something that might be going on with our kid,” said Sadberry.

If you notice any of these symptoms, experts say it’s important you talk to your child’s teacher and pediatrician to determine next steps.