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Mental Health

As a parent or caregiver you can play a critical role in knowing when your child may need help.  Click here to see data on the mental health of Hillsborough County high school students.

What to Look For

Some signs that someone is currently going through a mental health problem are:

  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks

  • Experiencing sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing

  • Getting in many fights or wanting to hurt others

  • Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to make himself or herself lose weight

  • Having intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities

  • Using drugs or alcohol repeatedly

  • Having severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

  • Showing drastic changes in behavior or personality

  • Difficulty making decisions, sitting still or focusing

  • Needing to perform certain routines dozens of times a day

What to Do

If you are concerned your child's behaviors, it is important to get appropriate care.  At school, Student Services staff such as guidance counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are trained to provide mental health intervention services and can help in finding appropriate resources outside of school.  Click here to see a flowchart on how to get help at your child’s school.

How to Talk to Your Child About Mental Health

If you need help starting a conversation with your child about mental health try leading with these questions from  Make sure you actively listen to your child's response.

  • Can you tell me more about what is happening? How you are feeling?

  • Have you had feelings like this in the past?

  • Sometimes you need to talk to an adult about your feelings. I'm here to listen. How can I help you feel better?

  • Do you feel like you want to talk to someone else about your problem?

  • I'm worried about your safety. Can you tell me if you have thoughts about harming yourself or others?

  • According to, when talking about mental health problems with your child you should:

  • Communicate in a straightforward manner

  • Speak at a level that is appropriate to a child or adolescent's age and development level (preschool children need fewer details than teenagers)

  • Discuss the topic when your child feels safe and comfortable

  • Watch for reactions during the discussion and slow down or back up if your child becomes confused or looks upset

  • Listen openly and let your child tell you about his or her feelings and worries

Need Help?

Learn More

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