BASIC FACTS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS:
There are two, distinct types of mental illnesses:
Serious to persistent mental illnesses which are caused by psychological, biological, genetic, or environmental conditions.
Situational mental illnesses due to severe stress which may be only temporary
Anyone can have a mental illness, regardless of age gender race or socioeconomic level.
Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or AIDS.
Mental Illness can occur at any age.
20 – 25% of individuals may be affected by mental illness.
7.5 million children are affected by mental, developmental or behavioral disorders.
Nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental disorder do not seek treatment
With proper treatment, many people affected with mental illness can return to normal, productive lives.
Mental illness can — and should — be treated
What Does My Counselor Disclose About Me and to Whom?
People often wonder this and are very nervous about coming to counseling because they think what they discuss will be blabbed to everyone in town. No need to worry or avoid counseling because of that! As an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) you’re bound by law to keep client information confidential. Unless you tell them then your employer, friends, and even family don’t have to know that you’re even coming to counseling. Even in a small town where many people know one another you’re not going to see your counselor in a store and have him/her stroll over and give you a big hug, “it was SO nice to see you in therapy this week!” Your counselor knows that you’d like to keep your information confidential and doesn’t know who you’ve told; she or he will not do that to you in any circumstance.
Would you walk up to your doctor in a store and start gabbing about your medical problems? Likely not. Would your doctor walk up to you and ask about problems that are sensitive in nature? Absolutely not. Counselors go by this same code of conduct; we simply won’t do that to you. Not to worry, it’s no reason to avoid coming to counseling.
There are only a few select instances that a counselor will and must disclose information about your sessions to anyone. Anything else outside of this small list of circumstances you must sign a release for the information to be released. You are in complete control over who knows that you’re coming or what is said.
An LPC must disclose information to officials if she/he feels that there is a serious threat to yourself or others. Child, elderly or handicapped persons physical or sexual abuse must be reported. If a complaint is filed against your counselor by you then we must release the records to the State Board of Examiners of Licensed Professional Counselors. If there are judicial procedures in which a judge, and only a judge, makes a written request for them. Worker’s compensation claims must be supported by data provided by the counselor.
Kids often are scared to come to counselors as well; they don’t want another tattle-tail in their life. Sometimes kids need an outlet for their feelings and how to work them out, sometimes which even means they need to express their feelings about mom or dad. Obviously we must tell parents about certain things because the child is under 18 but mom and dad won’t have a play by play of what the child or adolescent has said. Kids have control too! Children and adolescents feel empowered by this very fact and are more likely to work on issues rather than remaining clammed up about their feelings and having to choose their words wisely. Oftentimes kids will open up more to a trusted counselor than they will to their parents; once a child opens up to a trusted counselor then they can more readily be able to express their feelings to family.
Children and Divorce:
Divorce is a painful process for all those involved. But during this stressful period, the feelings, needs and concerns of the children sometimes take a backseat to their parents’ anger and emotional trauma.
Parents must realize that they are still the most important people in their children’s lives and that the divorce has at least as much impact on their children as well.
Female children from divorced families are five times more likely and male children three times more likely to divorce than children from intact families. Adult children of a divorce have higher anxiety levels, have different dating and intimacy styles, are more fearful of commitment, see psycho-therapy more frequently, and have greater feelings of isolation, frustration, anger and self-blame.
A 10-year research project that involved children of divorce revealed that the event has a greater impact on children over 12 years old. The study revealed that 68% of teenagers from divorced families engaged in some type of illegal or self-destructive activity – including alcohol or other drug use, theft and traffic violations – following the divorce. Their stress level actually rose a year after the divorce.
Children aged 5 to 8 report feelings of rejection and a fear of abandonment. Children aged 9 to 12 are apt to be angry with both parents. Many children in this age group have health problems, headaches and stomachaches, and many have difficulty socializing with other children. For all children, the emotional problems are greater if the children lose contact with one parent.
If a divorce is handled with the best interest of the child in mind, the child will be more resilient and will learn that difficult situations can be resolved in a caring, constructive manner.
Children’s Feelings and Divorce…
Children are often frightened, confused and threatened by the divorce. They sometimes believe they are responsible for their parents’ problems. They may also believe that they have caused the divorce and that they can bring their parents back together. They will often misinterpret the divorce and the actions surrounding it unless they are told what is happening, how they are involved and not involved, and what is going to happen to them. If not informed in an honest, open manner, children will create their own answers to unspoken questions about the divorce, answers that can be much more frightening than the actual situation.
Are You Helping a Child Through a Divorce?
You probably are having difficulty getting along with your divorced or soon-to-be-divorced partner, but when it comes to your children, you must put aside those feelings and focus on their best interests.
· Don’t lie or cover up what’s happening to the family. The first rule is honesty.
· Don’t fight in front of the child.
· Don’t use the child to carry angry messages to the spouse.
· Don’t worry the child with legal or financial problems.
· Don’t expect emotional support from the child; that’s a role for adults – friends, family members, or a therapist.
· Don’t imply that the child should take on adult roles by saying things like, “Now you’re the man of the house.”
· Assure the child that the adults in his/her life will continue to take care of him/her.
· Prepare the child for the changes that will take place.
· Convince the child that the divorce wasn’t his/her fault.
· Talk to the child. Help him/her work out feelings and perceptions about the divorce.
· Help the child to express feelings of fear or anger.
· Assure the child that relationships with other important adults in their lives will remain the same.
· Allow the child to mourn the loss of the family as it was before the divorce.
(Excerpt from Performance Resource Press, Inc. Troy, Michigan)
Mental Health & Well-Being of America’s Children:
Untreated, these disorders can lead to devastating consequences for children:
· Unidentified and untreated mental disorders can mean the loss of critical developmental years and can lead to youth suicide, school failure and involvement with the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems.
· Approximately 50% of students with a mental disorder age 14 and older drop out of high school — the highest dropout rate of any disability group
· Suicide remains a serious public health concern and is the third leading cause of death in youth aged 10 to 24. More youth and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. Research shows that 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from a diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death
· 70% of youth involved in state and local juvenile justice systems throughout the country suffer from mental disorders, with at least 20% experiencing symptoms so severe that their ability to function is significantly impaired
The Value of Early Identification and Intervention:
· Mental health is central to the health and well-being of children. Those living with emotional and mental disorders must be identified early and linked with effective services and supports to avoid losing critical developmental years that will simply never be recaptured.
· Parents play a crucial role in the identification and treatment of childhood emotional and mental disorders. They must drive decisions related to the identification and treatment of mental disorders to help achieve the best outcomes for their children.
· Schools are in a key position to identify mental health concerns early and to openly communicate concerns with parents. Schools that have an early identification process in place and open communication with families can help to reduce the pain and suffering all too often experienced by youth with undiagnosed and untreated mental and emotional disorders.
· Treatment decisions must always be made by the parents of the child, in close consultation with a treating physician, and not with any pressure from the school system. Federal law prohibits schools from requiring a child to be placed on medication as a condition for attending school. It simply should never happen in any school in America.
(Excerpt from: www.nami.org. Statistics and information gained from: Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Education, National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, Blueprint for Change, National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice)
Raising Confident Kids:
It takes confidence to be a kid. Whether going to a new school or stepping up to the bat for the first time, kids face a lot of uncharted territory. Naturally parents want to instill a can-do attitude in their kids so that they’ll bravely take on new challenges and, over time, believe in themselves. While each child is a little different, parents can follow some general guidelines to build kids’ confidence.
Self-confidence rises out of a sense of competence. In other words, kids develop confidence not because their parents tell them they’re great, but because of their achievements, big and small. Sure, it’s good to hear encouraging words from mom and dad; but words of praise mean more when they refer to a child’s specific efforts or new abilities.
When kids achieve something, whether it’s brushing their own teeth, making a peanut butter sandwich or riding a bike, they get a sense of themselves as able and capable and tap into the high-octane fuel of self-confidence. Building self-confidence can begin very early. When babies learn to turn the pages of a book or toddlers learn to walk, they are getting the idea “I can do it!” With each new skill and milestone, kids can develop increasing confidence.
Parents can help by giving kids lots of opportunities to practice and master their skills, letting kids make mistakes and being there to boost their spirits so they keep trying. Respond with interest and excitement when kids show off a new skill, and reward them with praise when they achieve a goal or make a good effort.
With plentiful opportunities, good instruction, and lots of patience from parents, kids can master basic skills – like tying their shoes and making the bed. Then, when other important challenges present themselves, kids can approach them knowing that they have already been successful in other areas.
(Excerpt from website: www.KidsHealth.org )
Connecting with your Teen…
Many teens spend less time with their families than they did as younger children. As they become more independent and learn to think for themselves, relationships with friends become very important. Sometimes it may feel like your teen doesn’t need you anymore. But teens still need their parent’s love, support and guidance.
What You Can Do?
Simple, everyday activities can reinforce the connection between you and your teen. Make room in your schedule for special times when you can, but also take advantage of routine activities to show that you care.
· Acknowledge appropriate or desirable behavior with praise or rewards.
· Model the type of behavior you want from your teenager. If you want honest expressions of feelings, you must do the same.
· Be consistent with rule setting.
· Acknowledge your mistakes. Your teen needs to know that you recognize that you make mistakes and are willing to take responsibility for them.
· Regularly ask your teenager how his/her day was and how he/she is feeling. It will open up communication and let him/her know that you are available to listen when he/she is having a problem, or when things are going great!
· Give undivided attention when your teenager wants you.
· Compliment your child when he/she makes an effort to look nice and take pride in his/her appearance.
· Criticize every little thing your teenager does “wrong”. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and that your child does “good” things sometimes, too.
· Say one thing and do another (i.e., you are not teaching honesty, when you say “If that’s ____ at the door/on the phone, say I’m not home”.)
· Change your mind several times about rules. If you are inconsistent, your teenager will learn how to easily manipulate you.
· Ignore of deny your mistakes. Your teenager will recognize this behavior and may model himself/herself after it. Also it encourages lack of responsibility.
· Ignore your teenager’s moods. Although teenagers are moody by nature, ignoring any behavior associated with moodiness, withdrawing, or major changes in behavior may be ignoring a significant problem in the life of your teenager.
(Ref: National Runaway Switchboard at www.1800runaway.org)
The Importance of Grandparents:
When we as parents think about Grandparents, we often think of them as people who:
· Spoil the kids
· Provide support for parents
· Try to parent the grandchildren
· Try to parent us, the parents
The role they play in our children’s lives, however, is often much more important than we realize. A growing body of research shows that children who have grandparents involved in their lives are often psychologically better off. They are more resilient and have a stronger sense of self. A grandparent can be supportive and less judgmental adult who values the child without the expectations of behavior that parents have. What we parents see as indulgent may actually be a great boost to a child’s self-esteem. The grandparent often has the time (or chooses to make the time) to read or play or go on outings with their grandchildren. Since their time with the grandkids tends to be limited, they are a bit less preoccupied with the business of daily living during that brief time. They often serve as role models and teachers of values and social skills.
As children get older, they may be able to ask questions to share feelings with their grandparents that they don’t with their parents. This allows a child a trial run sometimes, to check out things before bringing them to the parents. But perhaps one of the most important roles as a grandparent plays is to give children a sense of history, not just through the tales grandparents love to tell about how things were in “their day” but also through the sense of family and connection to others. Every child is fascinated by the concept of a family tree; and though many never actually know beyond their grandparents, it’s a powerful way of learning how they belong in the world.