Seeking help for children suffering from mental health problems

Family counselling provides help when families or children experience situations that lay too much stress on their mental health. Family counselling is a statutory service intended for all local residents.

The main tasks of family counselling include psychological, social and medical research on children, adolescents and families, as well as other expert tasks. The services of family counselling vary slightly from one town to another. Up-to-date information on family counselling in your home town can be found in the Internet. See examples of information on family counselling on municipal websites.

Child psychiatry helps children suffering, for example, from the following problems:

  • problems in normal interaction in kindergarten or at school
  • depression
  • self-destructiveness
  • aggressiveness
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • eating and sleeping problems

In order to receive treatment at specialised psychiatric care for children, the patient needs a referral from the school doctor or the health care centre. The objective of child psychiatry is to ensure the normal development of the child and to increase the family’s resources. Parents’ prolonged concern over their child’s well-being is reason enough to seek help.

In specialised psychiatric care for children, the symptoms of the child will be compared to so-called normal development. Certain issues are part of the normal behaviour of children of a certain age, but at another age may be a sign of a disorder or problem.

The child is usually examined by a multi-professional team consisting of a doctor, psychologist, social worker and/or medical nurse. They look into the child's life situation by meeting with the entire family and by interviewing the parents.

In addition, the child will be interviewed taking his/her age and level of development into consideration; this can mean, for example, observing the child at play. If necessary, the physical condition of the child will also be determined. The goal is to ensure that the child is not suffering from a neurological illness (i.e. of cerebral origin) causing the symptoms.

The psychiatric care of children is often based on a combination of treatment methods

Child psychiatric care is determined according to the child and his/her situation. The treatment may be comprised, for instance, of individual therapy focusing on the internal world of the child, interactions between family members, family therapy focusing on family dynamics or medication, if the child’s state of health thus requires. It is common to combine different treatment methods.

According to research, child psychiatric care may prevent problems from emerging during adolescence. Left untreated, however, the problems may become more severe and persistent.