77 Kids and the Law Mental Health and Substance Use Issues Children of any age may experience mental health and substance use issues. Just like adults, children may suffer from anxiety, depression, and trauma-re- lated symptoms. Sometimes children show the effects of mental health issues in the same ways as adults. For example, they may sleep more, change their eating habits or neglect their appearance. Other times children display differ- ent behaviors. For example, a child suffering from anxiety may have a difficult time going to or staying in school. Listed below are some things to look out for and have checked out by a trained professional. A pediatrician, school nurse, local hospital or Family Resource Center can help find a psychiatric social worker, licensed mental health coun- selor, psychologist, or psychiatrist to see the child. The resource chapter in the back of this book provides additional resources. MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS What are signs of mental health problems including depression? • Significant changes in previous habits. The child eats or sleeps much more or much less than previously. There may be a sudden drop in school per- formance, difficulty thinking or concentrating, decreased interest in activ- ities or sports, or change of friends. There may be a sudden increase in risk-taking behavior. • Apathy or laziness. The child who used to be energetic and positive loses interest in favorite possessions, pastimes, or friends and may complain of continued boredom. Mental Health and Substance Use Issues 8 8