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Common Signs of Mental Health Trouble in Children & Teens

At times, it can be difficult to spot the signs of suicidal behavior or other mental health conditions in children and teenagers. Parents and others who observe signs of mental health issues in teens and children may not know the right time to contact someone for help. 

The most common signs of mental health issues in teens and children typically appear as noticeable changes from normal behavior, such as:

  • changes in appetite or weight,
  • changes to a child or teen’s group of friends,
  • dramatic changes in mood or behavior, and
  • social withdrawal or isolation.

It’s also important for parents to stay in touch with other caregivers or helpers, such as:

  • teachers,
  • school administrators,
  • coaches,
  • pediatricians, and
  • family doctors.

These people may notice changes in your child’s behavior that you do not see at home and can provide feedback on any behavioral changes you notice.

Some parents are concerned about overreacting. Others worry about the stigma of seeking help for mental disorders in teens and youth. Just like you would not ignore physical changes in your body (such as an irregular heartbeat), you should not ignore behavioral changes that could indicate a mental health problem. 

You can seek help at any time. Huntsman Mental Health Institute at University of Utah Health has a Youth Inpatient Service program and Youth Residential Treatment Program with staff who are available to answer questions and determine the right course of treatment for your child or teenager.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

You should take your child or adolescent to the emergency room (ER) for mental health care if he or she is an imminent danger to himself or herself, or to others. If you are unable to drive to the nearest ER, you can call 911 and emergency medical services personnel will respond immediately.

HMHI Mobile Crisis Outreach Team

We have mobile crisis outreach team members who will come to your home—along with law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, if necessary—and help you decide whether your child or adolescent needs a higher level of care at the emergency room or our inpatient treatment center.

Mental Health Resources

If your child or adolescent is not in an immediate or life-threatening situation, you can seek help in several ways by:

Contact HMHI About Youth Mental Health Treatment Programs

For questions and to learn more about the Inpatient Youth Services or Youth Residential Treatment at HMHI, call 801-583-2500If you’d like to visit our inpatient treatment center today, please call first. However, we do welcome walk-ins.


If you’re not sure which mental health program is most appropriate for your child, please call us at 801-583-2500.

If your child is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors or is in immediate danger of harming themself or others, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or Utah Crisis Line at 801-587-3000.

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