When my teenager had a meltdown at school a year and a half ago, she was called into the counselor’s office to talk through what was going on with her. This talk and this counselor really helped her that day and in coming weeks as more red flags emerged. Over the next year, the counselor shepherded my daughter and my family through a mental illness diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
This counselor was not an academic counselor or a school psychologist, whose primary duty was to administer tests. She was a licensed, trained professional employed by a community based mental health agency who worked from the clinic in my daughter’s school.
Once I learned the gravity of my daughter’s situation, we set up weekly appointments. My insurance company paid for these services, and I didn’t have to drive her to weekly appointments. I didn’t miss work and she didn’t miss much school, but she got the help she needed. I’m happy to report she is doing much better these days, but some days are still a struggle.
There are lots of kids with mental health issues and most kids go to school. Why not bring mental health services to kids where they are? If we want to protect our kids, my money is on school based mental health, because it actually works. It works because more kids get help and they get it earlier in their illness. It works because counselors can build trusting relationships with students. It works because counselors can work with teachers to help students who are struggling. These are things that actually help prevent mental illness from spiraling out of control into tragedy.
These are things that armed guards cannot do.
In John’s early teens when he and I suspected OCD and the rest of the world were either oblivious or in denial, John tried to combat the condition himself (without the stigma of having a label slapped on him by the medical profession)
For my part I hoped that if we ignored it, it would go away. Perhaps he would grow out of it? I wondered if acknowledging it’s existence might somehow justify the rituals and discourage John from trying to suppress them. I wonder still if time alone with OCD allows the sufferer to indulge what should be resisted. We were both naive, however, and underestimated the OCD grip!
The rituals and compulsions multiplied and became more severe with time. The realisation that this was not going to go away hung like a black cloud.
Now, years on in the midst of the battle I am still regularly fooled into thinking that all is…
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Parents who need to resort to prescription medication for the treatment of their child’s mental illness sometimes question their decision. This recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health should help them feel a bit better about their choices. It concludes that psychotropic medications are not being oversubscribed for teenagers, as some media stories had reported.
The three groups most likely to be prescribed these medications were teens with ADHD, eating disorders or anxiety disorders. The report also suggested that youth being treated by a mental health professional were more likely to receive appropriate care than those being treated within general medicine or other facilities.
This New York Times Series from 2006 on children with serious mental health issues is very powerful.