Childhood mental dysfunction is not uncommon but is often overlooked especially in busy clinics with a lot of very sick children with somatic illnesses. These illnesses depend on recognition by the parents and, to some degree, the teachers if the children are in school. Assessment of such children requires a friendly and a non-threatening environment. Depending on the age of the child, it is important to observe as the child plays and relates to the parent and the environment as well as to the clinician.
The older child with mental illness is able to relate and talk to the clinician. Early recognition of children with mental illness and their referral to a mental specialist is important.