Support efforts to prioritize children's mental health

I have spent my past year with veterans of these agencies, all dedicated to breaking the barriers to improved social, emotional and behavioral health — and I am humbled by their commitment and tirelessness. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done, but there is no reason we can’t get it done if we prioritize social, emotional and behavioral health and build sustainable, effective, school-based and community programs that address these needs for all of our children, at all ages, and all stages. READ MORE

We must deal with a child's trauma, not just behavior

Those of us who represent children in the delinquency system meet children like him every day. We walk into their lives in a moment of crisis, read a report documenting a long history of referrals to child protective services that resulted in zero intervention and repeated instances of acting out at school that were met with consequences or behavior plans but no therapy. All I can see when I read those reports are the many missed opportunities to intervene. I wish I could say that by the time these young people get to the point of hospitalization or juvenile justice involvement, they finally had begun getting the help they need, but too often I’ve seen those encounters simply further traumatize them. Interventions tend to focus on behavior and how to change it, but fail to recognize or treat the underlying pain and suffering. READ MORE

To help mentally ill children, public agencies must collaborate

While everyone wanted to help, interventions were piecemeal and disjointed. Hope soon turned to frustration. After nearly two years, progress stayed minimal and the professional flow of new ideas ran dry. As the severity of the tantrums, screaming and aggression escalated, the likelihood that Alan would improve and not deteriorate further became increasingly remote, and Mary pessimistically awaited the outcome of one final referral. READ MORE

Patchwork of help brought a suicide attempt

When he was still very young, I noticed that my happy, outgoing son would move unsteadily, transformed with rage at some unknown thing. My heart ached when he asked me to make “it” stop. I had no idea what “it” was. But “it” got worse.

The professionals who talked to me about my son offered no translation or answers to these questions. I struggled and slowly learned. I was the active, involved parent that everyone says can make the difference. READ MORE

I'm the Problem: Why children don't get the mental health services they need

...Their all-too-common stories of children struggling in school, experiencing crisis, landing in juvenile hall, committing crimes, ending up in jail, and not receiving the social, emotional or behavioral supports they need along the road, paint a picture of fragmentation and misplaced priorities; where individual agencies focus on narrowly defined responsibilities within written and unwritten rules that create an impenetrable maze for families who need help the most. Ultimately, it ends up being the parents’ responsibility to try to make the system work for their child, whether they’re prepared or not.  READ MORE

A Mother's Prayer for Much Needed Mental Health Services

...I now think often about how I was able to access mental health services, yet so many people can't. Many of the school shooters who kill their way into the news fall into this category - people with mental illnesses who have not received the services they need to get well. We are not serving the mental health needs of children or adults as we should, and we are paying the price for it... READ MORE