Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mental Health, Theirs and Yours

As we just finished May as national Mental Health Month, I thought I’d cover some information for families of children with special mental health needs, as well as resources to help parents cope with any special needs in general.

How to Help Your Children

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a Child & Adolescent Action Center which hosts free conference calls, including Ask the Doctor.  NAMI has launched free classes for parents of children with challenging behaviors called Basics.  I took the class as a parent, as well as Family to Family (teens), and now am a volunteer teacher.  The class talks about diagnosis/treatment, dealing with educational and medical systems, and most importantly self care and how to deal with everything.  NAMI also runs support groups. For more information, see www.nami.org

Another good national source of information is the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and they have state chapters found at www.ffcmh.org .  For those of you who want to know what’s going on a policy level, including free conference calls, check out Georgetown University’s National Technical Assistance Center on Children’s Mental Health at http://gucchd.georgetown.edu/67211.html .

How Families Can Cope

Did you know that 75% of caregivers experience depression at some point?  National Family Caregivers (basically how to take care of yourself while caring for another) has a whole section on caregiver depression at www.thefamilycaregiver.org/improving_caregiving/depression.cfm.  

Sadly, children with disabilities are also more likely to be abused.  I was surprised when I first heard this but it makes sense due to the extra stress on the family.  Parents Anonymous is a great group that will help families for free on how to positively parent their child even under the most challenging conditions (including substance abuse, involvement with juvenile court, etc.) and families can find help at http://www.parentsanonymous.org/pahtml/parFind.html or by calling (909) 621-6184.   

I’ve mentioned these other supports before but Friends Health Connection at (800)48-FRIEND matches people with the same condition or their caregivers.  Parent-to-Parent matches trained volunteer parents to families of children with the same condition at www.p2pusa.org.  There are also support groups listed nationally for all conditions by American Self Help Group Clearinghouse at www.mentalhelp.net/selfhelp

Sometimes just talking to another family is all you need.  But if you need to talk to a professional, remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. but rather strength in knowing help is needed to assist you be the best parent to your child with special needs.

Remain Hopeful,



Resources:   Maternal & Child Health Knowledge Paths

Mental illness www.mchlibrary.info/KnowledgePaths/kp_Mental_Conditions.html

General mental health www.mchlibrary.info/KnowledgePaths/kp_Mental_Healthy.html

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