GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Although we like to think of childhood as a time of joy and innocence, the American Psychological Association estimates that about 15 million children in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental health disorder, and millions more are at risk because of inherent or environmental factors.

Yet only about seven percent of these young people receive the help they need. So, to what extent can these disorders be prevented?

How can parents recognize the signs that their child might have a mental health problem? And, why is it important to seek professional help as early as possible?

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, developmental psychologist Dr. Marti Erickson, host of a weekly podcast “Mom Enough”, shares some important tips with KARE 11 viewers.

If you see signs of mental illness in your child, consult with your family doctor, who can refer you to a mental health professional. To learn more about a wide variety of child development and mental health topics, visit

Recognizing signs of a possible mental health issue in your child:

• Severity, frequency and duration of troubling behavior
• Interference with a child’s participation in (and enjoyment of) age-appropriate activities
• A sudden change in friendships, school performance or other behaviors