Un adolescent agresse un de ses camarades de classe

Our life habits and set of values are laid during childhood/adolescence

How strengths and weaknesses take hold

Most mental health problems among children are based on genetic traits we all carry to a degree. Behavioral problems stem from aggressiveness, and emotional-affective disorders from the fear of danger.

Our genetic programming is altered by the environment of the child, mainly the baby’s attachment relationships. Post-natal growth of the human brain is at its maximum in the early years (from 350 cc at birth to + 1300 cc at 4.5 years).  Therefore, how a child is taken care of reorganizes neuronal connexions and the child’s personality.

Neuronal reorganizations carry on during adolescence and lay out our lifetime beacons.

 These genetic and family components, along with environmental stress, determine our behavior and tendencies.

How are children and adolescents doing?

About 80 % of children demonstrate adaptive behavior, their reactions and emotions match triggering events.  They may be disturbed, agitated or overexcited at times, but it does not last.  They easily achieve integration of school knowledge and skills necessary for success.

About 15 % show more frequent unwarranted reactions, inappropriate fears, or emotions conveying some kind of suffering.  They need support in order to learn how to manage their tendencies and develop their capabilities.

About 5 % behave, feel, think and interact mostly improperly, generating distress and maladaptive functioning.  These are not temporary reactions.  The quality of life and school performance of these children are thwarted.

How wellbeing and malaise are assessed

The World Health Organisation assesses mental health by counting the number of manifestations associated with various disorders.  We all react to everyday life events, which is normal.  But when they become frequent, lasting and have consequences (distress, functional impairment) these reactions become inappropriate.

For example, anyone happens to be sad one day or another.  This comes with a sad or bad mood, feeling like crying, energy loss, yearning loss, pleasure loss, thinking about death or dying, etc.  When these manifestations are numerous, this is called depression.  Severity increases with their number.