Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Learn to Manage Psychological Disorders in Children

Like adults, children and adolescents are not immune to mental health disorders. However, often children experience these disorders differently to adults, and there are also some problems which are unique to children. As such, treatment often needs to be different and children need to be viewed in context and helped in ways that make sense to them.

This course examines different types of mental health problems which can affect children and youth. The focus here is on disorders other than those which are known as pervasive developmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder), learning disorders (e.g. mathematics disorder) or behavioural disorders (e.g. conduct disorders and ADHD). Instead we are concerned with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, tic disorders and problems associated with brain disease or injury, environmental factors, abuse and neglect.

The course is ideally suited to students of psychology or counselling and people working in similar fields. It is also likely to be of value to teachers and other people who work with children where knowledge of mental health issues is advantageous.

Study the course to learn how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and develop an understanding of treatment options for these conditions.

The course is an excellent first step to developing an understanding of children's mental health. It covers a range of mental health conditions in children and adolescents including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain Disorders
  • Tic Disorders
  • Eating Disorders

COURSE CONTENT

This course is broken down into ten lessons as follows:

1. Nature and Scope of Mental Health

This lesson looks at the difference between adult and child mental health, what we mean by mental health and mental well-being. It also considers normal childhood development, child mental illness, the prevalence of mental health issues in children and adolescents, the mental health industry. looking at difference between adult and child and adolescent mental health. What we mean by mental health? Mental wellness etc.

2. Childhood Depression
This lesson looks at the different types of depression in children, how it is diagnosed, the causes of childhood depression, assessing the risk of suicide.

3. Anxiety Disorders
Covering topics such as separation disorders, generalised anxiety, school phobias, social phobias, the signs, symptoms and treatment of anxiety disorders, anxiety disorders in adolescence.

4. Tic Disorders
The topics covered in this lesson include an introduction to tic disorders, different types of tics, Gilles De La Tourette Syndrome (Tourette's Syndrome), Transient Tic Disorder, Chronic Tic Disorder and Tic Disorder (NOS).

5. Brain Disorders (Injury & Disease)
This lesson introduces brain disorders and considers the differences between adults and children with this sort of condition, traumatic brain injury, congenital malformations, genetic disorders, tumours, infectious diseases, cerebrovascular disease, epilepsy and the impact of environmental toxins on brain disorders.

6. Other Disorders
Covering topics such as  Motor Disorders, Elimination Disorders - Encopresis, Enuresis, Feeding & Eating Disorders; Reactive Attachment Disorder, Selective Mutism and Stereotypic Movement Disorder.

7. The Impact of Environmental Problems on Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Covering Abuse and Neglect, the Effects of Abuse,  relationship problems,  Factitious Disorders by Proxy, Attachment Disorders and Lifestyle.

8. Problems of Adolescence
Including Anorexia, Bulimia, Substance Use, Family Conflict.

9. Holistic and Alternative Approaches to Treatment
Such as Drug Treatments, food and mental health, Alternative Therapies such as homoeopathy, art therapy, music therapy, counselling/psychotherapy, craniosacral/biodynamic osteopathy, kinesiology, aromatherapy, sensory integration, behavioural optometry, hearing and mental health, movement therapies.

10. Special Project
You choose something of interest to you in relation to child and adolescent mental health and carry out a project on this, guided by your tutor.

 

Course Duration - 100 hours

 

Diet and Behavioural Problems

There is increasing evidence and support for dietary modification as a first intervention in children with behavioural problems, and conditions such as ADD and ADHD.  This is partially because many parents are reluctant to put their children on long term courses of very strong medications.  Many believe that food additives are a real cause of behavioural problems.  
As mentioned, in most cases food sensitivities are due to intolerance of a food, nutrient or chemical.  It is not surprising to think that a child constantly consuming something that causes adverse chemical reactions in their body is going to behave poorly.  Often symptoms of intolerance are not obvious, older children may not discuss chronic diarrhoea with parents, and constant abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, headaches etc would have most adults irritable, lethargic, on edge and generally touchy and unhappy.  When we are unwell or in pain, our attention spans are generally poorer than when we are in good health.  It makes sense then, to consider food intolerance as a source of poor behaviour, aggressiveness and reduced attention span.  

Junk Food

Unfortunately in today’s world children are exposed not only to advertising selling soft drinks, candy, and other nutritional devoid foods, but also advertising for foods that are deep fried and full of saturated fats.  Regrettably, youngsters are exposed to virtually thousands of junk food television commercials a year, and parents and caregivers might as well accept the fact that occasionally their children are going to head for a fast food restaurant. However, they'll survive, especially if their daily diet is nutritious. 

Much of this food has little or no nutritional value but is desired by the children because of advertising and social influences. Most of the foods served in fast food restaurants have fat as their main source of calories. Even milk shakes are often made with highly saturated coconut oil. In addition, their foods are usually low in iron, fibre, and vitamins, and extremely high in sodium as well as being filled with additives, flavourings, and preservatives.  It can be the best policy to have moderation in allowing fast and junk foods and when possible to educate the child on the lack of health benefits.  But as we shall see, junk food is not just physically bad, but also can affect a child’s mental health. 

Sugar

Sugary foods can have an impact on a child’s mental well-being.  Sugary cereals and treats like pop-tarts serve only to cause fluctuations in blood sugars that can cause impaired concentration, hunger and tiredness in early morning classes, again affecting a child’s mental health. 

There is also the impact of sugar and diabetes on children. Children with diabetes do not need to be on a special diet per se, but particular attention should be paid to good nutrition and regular and frequent eating as well as excluding refined sugars and high glycemic index foods. They have the same nutritional needs as other children for growth and development except they can’t miss meals and shouldn’t delay them. Main meals should be similar in size and content with about the same amount of carbohydrates and the same amount of protein. 

Because the insulin is constantly being absorbed, children with diabetes need to eat more often, with between-meal snacks and a bedtime snack. 

What many people do not realise is that Type II diabetes does occur in one in five of people with mental health conditions, which is around double the rate of the general population. And some of the medications used to treat people with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, biopolar disorder and other mental illnesses can actually be linked to diabetes and weight gain. The onset of diabetes has also been linked to depression.

Food colouring/additives/processed food

Food intolerances have been linked to learning and concentration difficulties in children. Some mothers are finding that their children are being affected by certain chemicals or additives to foods. While the scientific evidence has yet to be proven conclusively, there is much subjective evidence to suggest that common food intolerances such as lactose, wheat, eggs and peanuts do, in some cases, have links to conditions including dyslexia, autism, dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

The link between food intolerance and learning difficulties was strong enough for some government agencies to develop an ongoing research programme looking at the problem, particularly in the areas of additives in food and labelling. Many mothers and caregivers have already noticed in their children the effects of additives and preservatives causing children sometimes to be more hyperactive or spacing out, depending on the child.

Other experts believe that learning difficulties are directly linked to a lack of essential fatty acids in the diet (these are most commonly found in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna). These cannot be produced by the body but must instead be obtained solely through diet. Low levels of this substance can be directly linked to lesser brain function, memory problems, difficulty in concentration and learning. 

Food and autism

Another theory linking food intolerance to learning difficulties, particularly in relation to autism, is that the autistic child can't properly digest gluten (found in wheat’s, grains and food starches) and casein (found in dairy products). This causes these substances to alter behaviour and display traits common to autism. Some nutrition experts believe that any child showing behavioural difficulties should be tested for food intolerances. This is not to say that all cases of autism can be cured by changing diet, but rather that in some cases, symptoms may be improved by altering diet, or that in some instances food intolerances may be misdiagnosed as autism.  E-numbers in foods (you’ll find them on the label) are also causing significant problems for children with regard to learning difficulties but they aren't the full story, there may be another culprit involved. Children don't just react to the nutrient-robbing artificial chemicals contained in many processed foods, sometimes their problem is linked to certain foods themselves. There are a lot of websites and new research in this area.  

 

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Fee Information (S2)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $726.00  1 x $660.00
B 2 x $396.00  2 x $360.00

Note: Australian prices include GST. 
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