Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Learn about mental health problems in children other than developmental and behavioural disorders. Understand childhood depression, anxiety and eating problems amongst others and forge a career in the caring professions.

Course Code: BPS214
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn About Mental Health Problems in Children & Adolescents

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


Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature and Scope of Mental Health – looking at difference between adult and child and adolescent mental health. What we mean by mental health? Mental wellness etc.
  2. Childhood Depression also how this changes when reach adolescence. signs and symptoms and treatments.
  3. Anxiety Disorders - separation, generalised etc. school phobias, social phobias etc. signs/symptoms/treatment
  4. Tic Disorders - Tourette's etc. signs/symptoms/treatment
  5. Brain Disorders (Injury & Disease) signs/symptoms/treatment
  6. Other Disorders - Motor Disorders, Elimination Disorders, Feeding & Eating Disorders; signs/symptoms/treatment
  7. Environmental Problems - Abuse and Neglect, Relationship Problems signs/symptoms/treatment
  8. Problems of Adolescence - Anorexia, Bulimia, Substance Use, Family Conflict signs/symptoms/treatment
  9. Holistic and Alternative Approaches to Treatment - this should be a general approach to dealing with children & adolescents i.e. not directed at specific conditions
    • ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - homeopathy, art therapy, music therapy, counselling/psychotherapy, craniosacral/biodynamic osteopathy, kinesiology, aromatherapy, sensory integration, behavioural optometry, hearing and mental health, movement therapies.
  10. Special Project - student chooses something of interest

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.




Everyone is an individual, and that is equally relevant to children and adolescents as it is to adults; and the state of mind that a person experiences will vary from time to time.

  • Some people may always appear to be happy; but sometimes this can be a façade.
  • Some people may always appear negative, sober or even depressed; but this may not necessarily be the case.
  • Outward appearances can be misleading.

    It is hard to determine how many children (and adults) suffer from mental health conditions. Unfortunately, there is still some stigma attached to suffering from mental health problems, so there may be a reluctance to report conditions.  For example, women are thought to report more mental health conditions than men. This can lead to a bias in the figures that we use to determine the prevalence of mental health issues in adults and children.

    Another issue is that as children age and develop, they will display differences in behaviour over time. This can be due to simple changes. For example, younger children may have problems associated with feeding and sleeping. Other common problems include clinginess or separation anxiety when the parent leaves them alone. Sometimes they might display aggression, have temper tantrums, or show oppositional behaviour. All these things can occur as part of normal development.

    Likewise, many children between the ages of 12 and 16 years might start to rebel against their parents, truant from school etc. This can be part of normal behaviour as a child learns the rules and the boundaries they live within.  But sometimes a child may be displaying a behaviour that is the start of a mental health issue. Because of the rapid changes in childhood and adolescence, mental health conditions may not be obvious at first, which again can affect the prevalence figures.

    It would seem that among the normal population of children that behavioural and emotional disorders are quite prevalent, but the prevalence of mental health disorders varies considerably in accordance with the population being tested. For instance rates are found to be higher in inner city populations than in rural communities. Also, the types of disorders found vary with the age group and different age groups may have higher rates overall. In a well-known study of school children on the Isle of White, UK, Rutter (1970a; 1976b) reported a one year prevalence rate of 20% for psychiatric disorders among children at the age of 14. Other studies have since reported rates between 15 and 20%.

    Many children diagnosed with a psychiatric condition also seem to have co-morbid disorders. Co-morbidity is when a person has two or more disorders occurring together.  Sometimes this might be because one disorder leads to another but it could also represent a blurring of the figures in that some patterns of behaviour occur in more than one disorder according to diagnostic criteria.

    Reasons to Study This Course


    Children are prone to mental health problems just as adults are. The difference is that some disorders are unique to childhood, such as separation anxiety, and others are expressed slightly differently in children e.g. symptoms of depression. The way that children cope with mental health is also often different to adults and they may not always be very good at expressing their needs. This course helps to explain how children and adolescents experience mental health problems and factors which may cause or exacerbate them.

    The course is aimed at people working in, or aspiring to work in: 

    • Youth work
    • Child and adolescent counselling
    • School counselling
    • Teaching
    • Child psychology
    • Caring roles
    • Youth coaching
    ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
    ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
    Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
    Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
    ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
    ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
    Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
    Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

    How can I start this course?

    You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

    Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
    If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
    registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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    What do I need to know before I enrol?

    There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
    If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

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    We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
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    You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

    Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

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    If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

    This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

    Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

    Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

    This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

    It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

    The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

    Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

    Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

    There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

    Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

    We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

    Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

    We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

    Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

    Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
    More information is here

    There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

    When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

    You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

    Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

    Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

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    ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

    We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
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    We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

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    Course Contributors

    The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

    Tracey Jones (Psychologist)

    B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE.
    Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc.
    25 years industry experience in writing, editing, education, psychology, and business. Tracey has several books and hundreds of articles published; in both fiction and non fiction.

    Jacinda Cole (Psychologist)

    Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist.
    B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA
    Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Jacinda has worked for ACS for over 10 years.

    Lyn Quirk

    M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy
    Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.


    Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

    Yvonne Sharpe

    Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

    Julia Mayo-Ramsay

    Dr Julia Mayo-Ramsay is a practicing environmental and agricultural lawyer. She holds a PhD in International Environmental Law, LLM, BLJS, GDLP, LLM (Environmental Law) and a Master of Applied Science (Agriculture).
    Julia started out in agriculture working on various dairy farms in the 1980s before working as dairy manager / tutor at Hawkesbury Agricultural College Richmond NSW. Julia then went on to work at Riverina Artificial Breeders at Tabletop (Albury) NSW as an embryo transfer technician assisting vets with artificial breeding and embryo transfer in cattle, sheep and deer. This was followed by two years as a herd manager for a very large commercial dairy herd milking 3,000 cows over three dairies on the outskirts of Sydney before heading overseas. In 1994 Julia accepted a position in NE Thailand at the Sakhon Nakhon Institute of Technology (now a University) training farmers and students in cattle breeding and dairy farm management. On returning to Australia in late 1996 Julia completed a Master of Applied Science in Agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College (UWS) as well as law degrees and maritime studies. Julia now works as a Lawyer in the area of environmental and rural law.
    Currently Julia teaches a variety of maritime subjects for Marine Rescue NSW.
    As well as teaching Julia is working on a number of environmental research projects.

    Tracey Jones

    Tracey has over 20 years experience within the psychology and social work field, particularly working with people with learning disabilities. She is also qualified as a teacher and now teaches psychology and social work related subjects.

    She is a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work. Tracey has also written a text book on Psychology and has had several short stories published.

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