Hello everyone and welcome to KSOC-TV, brought
to you by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. We’re bringing
you timely, relevant technical assistance on a whole host of issues related to the mental
health needs of children, youth, and families. I’m Stephanie Dukes. We understand how critical
it is to find help if you think your child may have a mental health problem. That’s
why, in January 2016, KSOC taped on location at the 23rd Annual NBC4 Health and Fitness
Expo in Washington DC. Partnering with NBC4 News Anchor Doreen Gentzler, we talked about
“Finding Help, Finding Hope: What to Do if You Think Your Child May Have a Mental
Health Problem.” We’re pleased to bring you that discussion. Thank you for watching.
My name is Doreen Gentzler, I anchor the, the news on NBC 4, 6:00 and 11:00 weeknights.
I am also one of the reporters at the station who is a part of our station-wide Changing
Minds Project. It’s something we started about a year and a half ago, to raise awareness
about mental illness and to get more discussion going on, what the issues are regarding mental
illness and what needs to change. I’m really happy to see all of you here
today for this important session on children’s mental health, brought to you by our Changing
Minds Series. We have partnered with the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration or SAMHSA. I’m going to call it SAMHSA if that’s okay, I can never get
all those letters straight. We’ve got a panel here of experts here with
us, we’re going to be talking about what you can do if you think your child has a mental
health problem. It’s something that a lot of families face. Today’s discussion is
part of SAMHSA’s webcast series KSOC-TV, it provides bi-monthly interactive conversations
about important issues related to the mental health of children, youth, young adults, and
their families. You can find out more about KSOC-TV and watch
previous programs by visiting SAMHSA.gov/children. So, now that we got that out of the way, I
can start introducing our guests. First we have Danielle Strowbeck [ph.], she is the
mother of an 8-year-old boy with behavioral health needs and a family navigator for the
Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health. Welcome. On, next to her, on your right, that’s – this
is Erica Barnes [ph.], she is a licensed social worker at the D.C. Department of Behavioral
Health with years of expertise in school-based mental health programs. Next to her, we welcome
Leah Ganzley [ph.], I hope I’m saying your name right. Good, Ganzler [ph.], she is a
freshman, pre-nursing student at Virginia Commonwealth University, you recently started
a National Alliance on Mental Illness [inaud.] on campus chapter, that’s wonderful. And finally from SAMHSA please welcome Dr.
Gary Blau [ph.], he is branch Chief – he’s brought his fan club with him and he is the
branch Chief of the Child, Adolescent, and Family branch. Thank you all for being here.
I want, I want all of you to know that we are interested in answering your questions
today. And so if you will, you can Tweet them if you are on Tweeter, you can Tweet them
using the hash tag #KSOC-TV, or you can also fill out a card and pass it onto one of our
staff members, whichever is easier for you. But we are here because we want to answer
your questions. We’re going to start with where it starts with for so many families.
You think your child has a mental illness, it can be something that’s worrisome, and
sometimes it can be terrifying. And what we know is that one in five families
is going to experience this. I’m looking at you Dr. Blau, because I want to ask you
what does, what does, in a child, what does mental illness look like, how do you know
if you need to seek help? Well, I think that the first piece is, in
terms of how many children actually experiencing these kinds of issues, you mentioned one in
five, we also know that one in ten, about ten percent, have a serious mental health
condition that really impacts their ability to function, at home, at school, or in the
community. And there are so many different kinds of mental
health conditions that we have to be worried about. So, for example, we know that many
young people have issues regarding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder for example,
or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or depression, major depression, and we also have other disorders
that young people have as well, Bipolar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and then even
some, although at a smaller number, have a psychosis kind of a disorder. So, there are so many different kinds of mental
health conditions that one has to really look at the overall, kind of functioning of their
child and parents know their, their youngster the best. And, I think Danielle, will probably
talk about this, and if they feel that something is not right, if they feel that something
has changed drastically, then that’s the time to try to reach out and find out if and
fact that there may be a problem and then what to do about it.
Danielle, let me turn to you, what, what, how did you know you had a problem?
I think Gary touched on that beautifully. It really was when we started noticing that
things were changing, that my son once enjoyed swinging on the swing and now he was terrified
of that, so it was those little things, those little changes that really said, okay we need
to have a talk with our pediatrician to really figure out what’s going on here.
Leah, let me turn to you, your own experience, when did you, when did you realize that you
had an issue, and from your perspective what’s important to know?
Well, I was a sophomore in high school when I first started noticing my grades were dropping
and I had been a straight A student, and it just got I couldn’t do my school-work, hated
going to school in the morning and that was never an issue for me.
I started isolating myself from my friends a lot and it took almost eight months for
me to realize that something was off on my own. But once I did, I mean my school counselor
became a great resource for me and helping me get back on track and finding the help
that I needed. You realized there was something going on
before your parents did? Yes, I did. My mom is a single mom and so
she was often at work a lot and so I spent a lot of time on my own. So, she was noticing
some changes, but really it came down to some things that my teachers were noticing and
that I was noticing, and that my friends were noticing too.
Dr. Blau, I bet that’s pretty common. There is a wide range of normal when it comes to
children’s behavior, right. And, you know, for parents, real – noticing a difference
what is normal teenage behavior and what is not, or what is a symptom, that can be really
challenging for parents. It absolutely can, and again, I think that
as we were discussing, that if you see drastic changes, whether it’s, you know, excessive
swings in mood, changes in a sleeping or eating habits, drastic changes in personality, changes
in who their friends are, appearance, and you know, the kinds of things that it might
bring to the surface that hey we got to ask some questions here, we need to investigate
further. And I think that’s a lot about it. You know,
we always worry about our children’s physical health and folks will, you know, say hey we
should go to the pediatrician and see what’s happening. The same sort of thing happens
around mental health, mental health issues, are you know, just as essential to your overall
physical health as any other condition. And so when we start paying attention to the
emotional well-being of our children, then it gives us a better opportunity to help them
become productive in, you know, in their later years. One of the things that we know is that
about 50 percent of all mental illness issues that happen in adulthood actually occur and
can be identified by the age of 14. And interestingly enough about 75 percent
by the age of 24. So, it’s really the formative years that helps us to understand better about
what kinds of these issues that we can deal with, because the sooner we intervene, the
early intervention is such an important component to improving the outcomes for children, or
young adults who have mental health issues, that that’s the kind of thing that we’re
really focused on. But it’s also hard for parents to, I’m
a parent, you know, I have two kids, and I would like to, you know, I don’t want to
think that there’s a mental illness in my, in my family. And so it’s going to be a
tough thing, if it is, and I mean do you go through a little bit of denial trying to figure
out what’s going on with your kid, it’s a process, isn’t?
Oh, absolutely. I think many parents, we first seek out other parents or other family members
and we say, hey you know, something doesn’t look right, you know. And you have family
members that say, well they’ll grow out of it, or it’s just a stage, or, you know,
children do children things, and you have to know yourself and know your child well
enough to say let’s investigate further, like Gary was saying, because something just
doesn’t feel right. We really do know our children, and the important
thing is not to give up, to keep searching for those answers, because those answers will
build a communication and a bond between the family.
Erica, for parents who are questioning whether there is something going on, a lot of times,
the first indication that there is an issue comes from school, right?
Yeah, it does, and I think one of the most important things for parents to do, is really
partner with the school to look at what the issues are and how the school can help address
those issues. There are a lot of early intervention programs that can sort of nip things in the
bud and also prevention programs where other children can be identified. But working with the school and being a partner
with the school, I think, is probably one of the best things that a parent can do, and
it can also help educate the parent on what is going on with their child and relieve some
of that guilt or that, what did I do wrong, kind of feeling when you feel like you’re
parents with someone in helping your child. I think as a, as a parent, I might be reluctant
to, to share information with the school about my concerns, because I wouldn’t want my
kid to be labeled, what, what do you say to parents who might feel that way?
I think that that is a extremely common and I think that really talking about confidentiality
and as professionals, we do have, we’re bond to confidentiality and we also, I know
with the Department of Behavioral Health, we talk about what information we are going
to share with the school, and it doesn’t mean we’re going to share all of the, you
know, nitty gritty, it’s just going to be a basic, how can we help the child in the
classroom, what strategies can we use, and are the strategies working, and helping the
family know that we’re, we’re not trying to be [inaud.], and really just trying to
develop a plan together in order to alleviate some of the symptoms. But that it definitely, it takes a lot of
education and it’s not just one conversation, it’s more than one conversation, over and
over with parents, because they have a right to feel that way, and it’s a legitimate
concern that their child will be labeled. Leah, you’re kind of an example of the positive
side of sharing your issue with, with someone at school. Tell me, I mean, were you reluctant
to talk to your counselor at school, tell – what’s your take on that aspect of this.
I was very reluctant at first, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I mean for the longest
time, I didn’t even think there was really something going on, I thought it was just
like, oh maybe I’m sick, you know, maybe I’m just upset about something else that
happened at school. But when it kept going on for so long, I already
had developed a pretty good relationship with my school counselor and she was, she was first
person I went to, and I was probably in her office, almost every day for awhile, her and
one of my favorite English teachers, they just became the people I talked to the most,
and they were able to connect me with other school resources, like the school psychologist
and the social workers and everything. So, they were really the biggest, like most
important people [inaud.] my situation now. Let’s, let’s hear it for high school English
teachers. That’s pretty cool. I want to again let you guys know that if you have questions
for our guests, please Tweet them with the hash tag #KSOC-TV, or fill out a card, please,
and pass it along to one of staffers, and, because we really do want to answer your questions.
Dr. Blau, where do you go first? Where do you – it’s – our behavioral health care
system is not nearly as easy to understand as the rest of our healthcare system, unfortunately. It is very puzzling to, once you get to the
point where you want to ask for help, to figure out where you go, where do you go first?
So, that kind of depends on, you know, what you’re comfortable with. I often suggest
that people start first, say with their family doctor. I think that that can be a really
important connection that they already have. Most of our pediatricians nowadays are trained
pretty well to capture understand about mental health conditions and will be able to give
some guidance about this. If folks don’t have a primary care doctor
or are not comfortable in that setting, there are many other settings. We talked about,
you know, a school guidance counselor, a trusted other adult, some families are actually more
comfortable talking to other family members. You know, I often talk about this as being
two degrees of separation, we’re never more than two degrees of separation away from somebody
that we know that has a child with a mental problem. So, can you find that person, would
they be willing to talk to you about how they navigated that system. That’s the whole
point of having family navigators and things of that nature. Coaches, clergy members, my point about this
is that there are a host of natural supports and resources in people’s towns and communities
and schools that you can start with. There’s also great information and educational resources
that are available on the website. For a plug for my agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, we have a great resource at SAMHSA.gov. And people can literally go in and varying
conditions look at, you know, does this apply to me, does this feel like me, as a way to
give them a basic foundation and an understanding to see, should I be talking to somebody else,
should I be reaching out. And also one of the things in many families,
is folks are sometimes not necessarily comfortable talking amongst themselves, so they – a child
may not be sharing as much with, with a parent or a caregiver.
Particularly a teenagers or a young adult. Exactly, and that’s when I say to parents
that spending time, you know, trying to be that good role-model about communication,
bringing things up at the dinner table, or trying not to just take those famous one-word
answers that some of our teenagers like to give us, you know, how many of you have heard,
you know, how was your day…fine. And then, sort of pushing on that, well what
did you do, and how did that feel, or, those are some of the things that come out, because
at that point a youngster may finally explain or share some information, well, I have been
pretty uncomfortable at school, somebody is picking on me, I’m having trouble in my
math class, I’m really anxious about something, and so between, you know, getting information,
like from SAMHSA.gov or from other web sources, reaching out to trusted adults and allies,
or going to professionals, and then of course at some point, if people feel the need, is
to see if they can make appointments with a mental health professional.
There are lots of reasons, I think, people are reluctant to seek help, or seek treatment
for mental health issues, one of them is the cost of it, and then you, you know, I might
follow-through, I might call for help, but it’s going to be too expensive and I can’t
afford it, that has gotten a little better, hasn’t it?
It’s gotten a lot better actually, and particularly as we look at the Mental Health Equity Imparity
Act that was created, the Affordable Care Act, there are more avenues for people, I
mean we have 22 million people that are insured now that were never insured before. We have opportunities where pre-existing conditions,
or other, you know, conditions are, still have to be covered, and at the same level
as they are for physical health care, and so as a result, you know, people should be
able to reach out, and at the same time, there are still costs involved and if those are
the cast, that we – SAMHSA for example funds states all across the country to create clinics
and agencies that will see people on a sliding-scale as well, so even if the co-payment may be
high, there are opportunities to reduce that even further, because of these, you know,
these clinics and from, you know, other kinds of funding sources. So, while I will continue to agree that this
cost factors, or capacity is a problem, I think that most people are finding if they
really push the system a little harder, and make that extra phone call, that help is available
and the truth is and as we are trying to say, that once you find help, you can really find
hope. Because people can and do recover from mental
health conditions, and I think that’s really an important thing. There is, there is help
out there and that leads to that being a real hopefully situation.
Don’t give up. Never give up, never surrender, I think that
was a movie at one point. Danielle, how did you go about finding the
help that your son needed? Well, we first contacted our pediatrician
and then through our pediatrician we were put in contact with Infants and Toddlers,
Infants and Toddlers did their assessment, and then we were immediately put into a program
with the school that would help my son address what the behaviors that we were seeing at
home, and I have to tell you that it was lifesaving. Not only did it teach my son the skills to
cope with his anxieties, it also taught us as his parents how to cope with his anxieties
and it really opened up this line of communication and it strengthened our family and it empowered
us to go out and help other families find that light.
It must have been frightening, a very frightening experience before you, you got some information
and some help and how to manage. Oh absolutely. I think, you know, when you’re,
when you’re carrying your child, you think, well when my child is – I want 10 fingers
and 10 toes, and those are the things that you think of when a child is born and they
have a fantastic Apgar Score, and you don’t think, okay well, what if there is a diagnosis
later. Those aren’t things that you’re – that
you think about, and then, you know, as you’re sitting there blowing out the candles for
the second birthday and your child is just worried about everything that’s going around
them, it’s humbling, and it’s very frightening, because you’re not sure what tomorrow is
going to bring. Right, that’s not in the, that’s not in
the guide book of what happens in the first few years, or whatever.
Right, [inaud.], What To Expect when Expecting. Right. Yeah. It covers a lot of other stuff,
not mental health issues. Leah, what are some of things that you learned when you first,
first got some treatment? Well, the first type of treatment I started
was just, you know, your basic talk therapy, and it ended up, I didn’t stick with that,
and moved on to a different type of treatment, but the first thing she said to me, was this
isn’t your fault. And that’s I think the biggest thing. Because
I did feel like maybe I’m doing something wrong, maybe this is like just me, like something
is wrong with me. And if you just worked a little harder, you
could get past it. Exactly. And I think a lot of teenagers, especially,
feel that way, because you already feel awkward in high school about everything, so then something
like this happens and you think it is your fault and that you’re the odd one out.
And I think that that is in some ways the first response of parents, you know, what,
what’s the problem, you know what’s bothering, just go do your homework and it will all work
out. Exactly, yeah.
Yeah, a lot of times people will say, well, and even at times, a professional, well, it’s
a phase, they’re going to go over it, just wade it out. And while certainly that does
happen, the – what we do know is that there are a complex set of circumstances and reasons
that people develop mental health conditions. And it starts with things like, you know,
genetics and biology, you know, we know that that can be very impactful. We also know that
varying environment stresses and other kinds of issues, you know, give rise to that. We also know that physical health is also
really critical. One important thing is by taking care of our mental health, we also
are importantly taking care of our physical health, we know that people that have, like
cardiovascular disease are more likely to be depressed, and vise versa, people who have
mental illnesses are more like to have physical health issues as well. So, they’re all intertwined and you really
can’t say that that is something that is somebody’s blame. For too long, I think,
we’ve blamed, you know, whether it’s parents or individuals for their own conditions. We
would never do that for, you know, some other kind of physical, we don’t say that for
diabetes, you know, I mean those are realities. Now, are there factors that contribute, of
course, but I think what we need to do, is to say, based on all of the understanding
that we have now about the causes of mental illness, we know that in a vast majority of
cases, that our young people and our parents are absolutely not to blame. And, and it’s important, I like to think
about children as like about being pies, you know, a big pie, you know, a pizza pie, apple
pie, and each of those quadrants, p-i-e-s, we have to worry about our child’s physical
health, we have to worry about intellectual health, we have to worry about their emotional
health, and then finally, their social health, and across all of those things, that’s what
makes us, you know, how our children grow and develop and I think that’s important.
So it’s not somebody’s fault. Let’s get over it. Stop blaming people.
And let’s do something about it. Let’s do something to fix it. Got a handful
of questions here, so let’s, this first one goes right to you, I think, Erica. What
exactly is a family navigator? A family navigator?
Wait to Danielle. That’s you, I’m sorry.
Pardon me, I just got a tickle in my throat. A family navigator is a person who has a family
member with a mental health diagnosis, who receives extensive training to work with other
family members, who have, who work with other people who have family members with mental
health diagnosis, so we can offer those resources as well as that peer support, which is really
a key part of finding services and just a whole holistic approach of living a better
life. And how does one connect with a family navigator
and is it a, is it an expensive, is it covered by health insurance?
It is not another expense, you can contact the Maryland Coalition of Families, we have
several wonderful navigator throughout the state of Maryland. There are other agencies
that you can contact as well, but being part of the Maryland Coalition of Families, those
are who I would recommend. Okay.
Can I just interject? Yes.
For, for D.C., we also have peer-to-peer specialists that are pretty much the same thing, or even
adults who have suffered and recovered from mental illness, they act as peer advisors
for other people suffering, and in the summer we’re also going to be doing youth peer
advisors, so youth who have suffered are also going to be able to be mentors, you know,
guides for other kids, so you can access that information through DVH.DC.gov.
And, and Doreen, I think it’s also important for this area, having the Maryland Coalition
of Families and the Department of Behavioral Health here in the District that SAMHSA funds
all over the country these kinds of family programs, so there are family organizations
all over America that are really there to help provide support and to do that sort of
navigation and often times there’s no cost at all, and now, even now some insurance companies,
because there’s just never going to be enough psychologist, psychiatrists, social workers,
marriage and family therapists, you know – There’s a big shortage.
– there’s a shortage, and so we know that connecting families to other family members
and connecting youth to other youth, is actually a great adjunct and insurance companies across
the country are now saying, this is actually cost efficient, we’re getting good outcomes
and they’re paying for it as well. So, it’s not just the kind of thing that again that
you should back off on. Pick up the phone, look at the websites, see
if there is a family organization near you, that might make a difference.
Leah, you could probably talk a little, that’s probably what you have in mind with starting
[inaud.] on campus chapter. There is no substitute for – there’s nothing like having support
from somebody who’s been there, is there? Yeah, I mean being able to get together with
a group of people who usually are there because they know someone who’s been dealing with
a mental health condition or they are someone with a mental health condition, it just helps
more sometimes than speaking to an adult, because you’re going through the same experience. You’re in college together and you have
to deal with all the classes and whatever else you do in college at the same time.
Here’s a question from someone in our audience, can very young children have mental health
needs? And what should parents look for in very young children? You’ve talked about
your child’s, your son’s second birthday, realizing that he was, that was very nervous
and anxious about things. So, somebody want to take a crack at that, about [inaud.].
Well, I can go ahead and start. It’s different, you know, certainly the issues that are in
very young children, than they are when they’re like school-aged or teenagers, or in young
adults. I often will say to parents who have very young children, to look at several particular,
their relationships first of all. Are they able to attend appropriately, making
good eye contact, are they, you know, able to be social in some ways, I mean those are
important things to think about, do they have, you know, frequent temper tantrums or aggressive
behavior, not the kind that normally happen, of course, with young people, when they don’t
get their way or somebody else is playing with their toy that they want back, and things
of those sorts of things, but really sort of like the very challenging aggressive outbursts. How impulsive are they, are they able to delay
their gratification or are parents seeing that they have to have it immediately all
the time, they’re running around, they can’t seem to sit still, they have the inattentiveness
that we get somewhat concerned about, or on the other side of the coin, are they so withdrawn
that they’re not coming out of their shell at all, they seem so challenged by any type
of interaction, that those are the kinds of things that we are concerned about. What are their sleeping habits, are they good
sleepers, or, but a lot of times if we become concerned, these are young children who are
really having trouble sleeping or experiencing significant nightmares and things. And again,
that may or may not mean that there is a significant issue here, it does mean though that they
might want to share that information with their pediatrician or with a trusted friend,
or a counselor or school person, if they are, you know, in pre-school or something and say
is this, am I only seeing this at home, or is this happening with you too, if like if
there is a childcare provider involved and sort of get a gage of all of those different
things. But those are the kinds of things we’re
looking for, sort of excessive tantruming, excessive aggressive behavior, excessive issues
regarding sleep and nightmares, impulsivity, those are the things that I would suggest
really focusing in on at first. And pediatricians can be your best resource
when regarding finding help. Pediatricians are an awesome resource, and
of course to admit to the panel and our audience that I’m bias, my, my daughter is a pediatrician
and so I hope that by growing up in our household and by learning some of these things in school
that she’s going to be really excellent at identifying any of these issues, and then
intervening early. Again, I think that for most parents that
are hoping that it might go away, that the more we can do to intervene early, the better
we’re going to see their outcomes later on.
Speaking of intervening early, I mean, programs that we have at the Department of Behavioral
Health, one of our programs Health Futures, starts in a child development center, so it’s
from infancy to five year olds. We have consultants who go in and coach the teachers in the classrooms
on managements of the classrooms but also things to look for that they should be concerned
about with particular children, and then they’re able to meet with the parent, and consult
with the parent and offer strategies that can be used. And then a second program we have in the schools
in pre-K to third grade where we’re screening for that, where they’re just, they do things
a little bit more than the average kid. And being able to find out what the needs are
so you can give them the early intervention, so later on when they’re in eighth grade,
they’re not far beyond, you know, the help that anyone is able to offer.
Early, early diagnosis and treatment is key with behavioral health just like it is with
so many other medical issues. We talked about the shortage of counselors available on college
campuses, here’s a question regarding whether are teachers, counselors, administrators,
in schools, what kind of training are they getting for – to identify and respond to mental
illness issues. I think there, there is probably a wide variation.
Who wants to take a crack at that? Well, I can, I know in D.C. the social workers
that are in the school, are Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers and they do have a
program that came out of the, I believe, the South Capital Bill [ph.], where a webinar
was put together for teachers to watch about identifying things in the classroom that they
should be concerned about, subtle things, not the, I’m going to throw a chair through
a window, but other things, the child who sits in the corner and doesn’t talk, that
you should be concerned about. Or the hyperactive child. And teachers are
required to view that, and also with the social workers in the building, they are doing consultations
with the teachers, the teachers say I’m a little concerned about so and so, or can
you come in my classroom, or a social worker will observe something and say maybe if you
try this in the classroom it might be helpful. So, it’s not perfect in every school, but
really we are focusing and the district is focusing on the early intervention and really
trying to build strong mental health teams because we know that children cannot learn
if they have mental health issues that are interfering with that ability to learn. And that causes a whole other set of problems.
And I would add, we’re sort of blessed by having really great training programs out
there, for example, the President’s, what’s called now is the Time Initiative [ph.], put
money into mental health first aid where the concept is that people get training about
what are those issues. SAMHSA has programs in schools all over the
country through our Project Aware activities that train teachers and community members
about mental health issues and what to be looking out for. Our colleagues at the National
Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, have wonderful training programs, the Federation of Families
for Children’s Mental Health to help parents and others learn about the signs, what are
those red flags that we should be doing that we have been talking about in terms of this,
at all ages, because like we were talking before with young kids, that’s different
than it would be say for a teenager, where you need to be worried about, say things like,
you know, real violent outbursts, or the changes in their personality, that might suggest are
they using drugs or alcohol. And then we really do need to be a little
bit more involved and intrusive in terms of asking those questions. My kids use to get
on me a little bit, because they would say, geez why are you asking me so many questions,
it’s because I care, and I think that’s an important piece that our training programs
can teach people, about how they ask those questions.
I’m not so sure those training programs are reaching all of our schools. Did you,
I’ll ask you Danielle, did you find your son’s school situation, were they, did they
understand, were they receptive, responsive, I mean kids with mental illness need some
adjustments, maybe more time to take a test later, if they’re having an episode or depression,
what’s been your experience with your son’s school?
I got to tell you the first time I sat in an IEP meeting, I thought that I was just
in a different country. The language was completely different. I didn’t know what an IEP was,
I didn’t know what accommodations were, there really was a breakdown in communication.
The school was there to help, I was there to help, but we weren’t speaking the same
language. So, I think once that I learned the language
and the school communicated that back to me, we really built a beautiful partnership and
we really built an ironclad IEP that really gave him those accommodations to where he
could receive the adequate education that his typical peers were receiving. So, I think that it’s a two-way street,
that to put the responsibility on the school, you also have to put responsibility on yourself,
and if both people come to the table for the great good of the child, the sky is the limit.
Okay. I – can I just add to that too?
Yeah, sure. That I do think that parents need to be their
child’s advocate and negotiating the educational system whether it’s for a learning disability
or a mental illness, unless you’re in the system, it can be very, very difficult so
I encourage parents who are going through this process to read the manuals that they’re
given about parental rights, but also possibly get an advocate who can interrupt the language
for you, and say this is what you’re entitled to. Because sometimes you do need to push a little
bit harder in some schools than in other schools. So, parents are the best advocates and there
are free advocates for parents to be able to use to get the information they need.
Good, good advice. And Leah, I’m sorry go ahead.
Well, I just wanted to ask Leah about your experience, both in high school and now as
a college student, how, how much training, how much understanding do you feel like your
schools have had? Well, in high school, I felt like my school
counselor, the psychologist, and social worker, were all pretty well equipped. I guess the
biggest problem I had there was just there were times they wouldn’t be around a lot
and I felt like I didn’t really have anywhere else to go, but that didn’t happen often,
it was more the teachers who weren’t always very understanding about like I need to go
talk to a counselor, I need to go talk to the school psychologist, and I actually had
a teacher my senior year who was extremely rude to me, and I came back from the social
worker a few times and he had called me out in the middle of the class and when I was
visibly upset, you know, asked me to answer questions, I mean he was probably a special
case, most teachers are not like that. But, you know, there’s has to be some kind
of sympathy there. Well, it’s interesting that you bring that
up, that can be sort of a traumatic kind of an experience for someone and we know also
that experiences of traumatic events actually are exponential in terms of young people’s
mental illness and the development of mental health issues. Trauma whether it’s from natural, manmade
traumas, like hurricanes and earthquakes, you know, all the way through traumas that,
you know, people experience in their environment can really add to this, and so, you know,
we have to attend to all of these different issues. And then ultimately it’s about reaching
out and finding those people that are going to be helpful to you, and especially if you’re
concerned that somebody might be a danger to themselves or others. One of the things
that I think is really important is that through all of those discussions we’re assuming
that we’re sort of managing, but there are times, when for whatever reason a young person,
a young adult may feel so helpless or so hopeless that they may want to take their own life,
or to act out in ways that would be harmful. And that’s when we have to act immediately,
and I would share with, you know, anyone if that happens that SAMHSA actually operates
a 24 hour a day 7 day a week lifeline, it’s 1-800-273-TALK, that’s 1-800-273-8255, and
that that’s, that can help connect immediately with services so that we can prevent an unnecessary
tragedy of say somebody dying by suicide when we could have linked them up. So, I think those are also important to know.
Is this something that, you know, we can sort of wait on, or if I’m really concerned,
if somebody says to you, I’m thinking of hurting myself, we really take that seriously.
I’m so glad you brought that up, because that is a concern, and I think most of us
would be very frightened if our child was in danger or in danger of harming somebody
else. It’s good to know that there are resources available and also don’t wait, don’t wait.
I do want to say too, an important thing, especially in the schools is it’s scary
for a teacher to hear a child, even as young as five to say I want to kill myself and I
know how I’m going to do it. You don’t want to hear it, it’s almost like you want
to ignore it and there are trainings to help people be – feel comfortable about asking
that question, do you want to kill yourself, and knowing that, and feeling comfortable
asking that question and then knowing the next steps to take can really save a life,
in the schools and even in the communities. And those trainings are out there, I know
through DVH, I hate to keep plugging them, but they do mental health first aid for adults
and for youth, I know that all the youth workers in D.C. have taken that mental health first
aid training. So, there’s lots of training to be had for just the regular Joe who wants
to know more information about things. We have reported on that mental health training
and it’s a really good program and more people should take advantage of it. And I
don’t mean to be, I know, some people have had some tough times with teachers and people
in the school systems, I don’t mean to be too hard on them, they are facing a lot of
challenges that are, you know, hard for all of us to understand, short staff, and challenges
just controlling what’s happening in their classrooms and managing their work. So, there are some wonderful teachers out
there, just as Leah pointed out. A question about Executive Function Disorder, is it a
type of mental illness, and is ADHD in children, an indicator of adult mental health conditions,
potentially later on. I think there are lots of different diagnoses out there, and there
are lots of – more young people than ever before, being diagnosed with ADHD and some
of this gets confusing. Maybe I’ll give this one to you Dr. Blau.
Well, thank you. So, first of all Executive Functioning Issues, or if they turn into,
you know, the ability to sort of function in your daily routines, and how you’re making
strategies to get through your days, and stuff, I mean in and of themselves, I would say no,
that’s not a diagnostic condition, unless that it is part of other issues that have,
that are occurring. That sort of create a situation where somebody
is not functioning very well, and then they are sort of a combination of effects that
may lead to a diagnosis. There are educational diagnoses for things that, you know, you might
jump in and say okay well we can sort of create some educational strategies to help with those. You know, similarly ADHD, you look at kids
and yes there is a continuum between low-level inattentiveness all the way through extreme
dangerous impulsivity. So, now that doesn’t mean that you should just leave them alone.
Even lower-level issues you can intervene with by creating strategies, or you know,
varying kinds of therapies and, when I mean therapies, is that there are talk therapies,
or cognitive type therapies, medication therapies, there are a host of things that can be done
at varying levels. So, I think the answer really is that if somebody
is concerned that a child’s executive functioning or impulsivity is getting in the way of their
functioning, then that’s when to reach out and try to find if there’s way to get help.
And it’s really about, okay where can I get that help, which we’ve discussed and
can I get it in a timely enough fashion to make a difference.
Treatments for all, every range of mental illness among children, they’re getting
better all the time, aren’t they? That’s a really important point, is that
we’ve come a long way in the last, you know, decade or two decades in what’s called Evidence-Based
Practices, SAMHSA has a national registry of Evidence-Based Practices, you can literally
log on and see the different kinds for varying disorders and behaviors, what kinds of evidence-based
practices are available to improve. We know from the data that those practices
work. We know from SAMHSA that treatment is effective, that prevention works and people
recover. Those are really, and that really adds a lot in terms of a hopefulness. So,
while a parent maybe feeling very scared, confused, challenged at the moment, our message
is that there is hope and people get better. That’s a great message to end with. I thank
you all for being here. I think it’s been a great discussion and I hope people have
gotten some good information about what to do if you are concerned about your child possibly
having a mental illness. I thank all of you for being here today as
well. I want to remind you that there are resources available on the cards that we’ve
passed around as well as on SAMHSA’s website, that’s SAMHSA.gov/children. Also, SAMHSA
has a booth here today where you can go and get more information and ask your questions
one-on-one, we’re glad that, that opportunity is available for people here at the expo. I hope you’ve been able to learn something
from our guests and if you’d like to watch this talk again, it will be posted to the
SAMHSA YouTube channel in the next couple of weeks and follow SAMHSA GOV on Twitter,
or SAMHSA on Facebook. For more details on this web episode and other behavioral health
issues, and I’ll mention our NBC-4 website, it’s NBC Washington.com, we have a whole
section in there, changing minds and you can see, you can see all of the news reports that
we’ve done over the last year and a half including an interview with my colleague Jim
Vance [ph.] who talks about his own struggles with depression. We will be partnering with SAMHSA again on
May 5th for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day where we’ll be talking about
these issues during a national webcast. So, we hope you’ll keep an eye on SAMHSA social
medial platforms for more details. Thank you all for being here, thank you to our guests
for being here, very informative, thanks a lot. Have a great afternoon.

Articles, Blog Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *