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Family Guidance Blog

What You Might Not Know About Your Kids

11700094_sWhen it comes to substance use, parents have their plates so full dealing with issues of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana that they often forget about the prescription drugs that are circulating throughout schools these days like candy.

Abuse of amphetamines and stimulant drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is becoming rampant for aiding focus and alertness when pulling all-nighters and studying for midterms and finals. An article presented by PsychCentral uncovers data from a recent Monitoring the Future survey that puts nonmedical use of study drugs at 10 and 12 percent for sophomores and seniors respectively. However, data from a new University of Michigan study shows that only one percent of parents with kids of high school age think that their children have partaken in this trend.

Experts warn that taking medications prescribed for another individual can be very dangerous and may result in abnormal heart rate, sleep problems, confusion and even psychosis when going through periods of withdrawal. Dr. Matthew M. Davis who heads the Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health for whom the University of Michigan study was conducted, says that despite popular thinking, there is no correlation between study drugs and the achievement of better grades.

The key study take away is the disconnect that exists between what students are reporting and what parents believe about their children. No parent likes to think that his or her child might be engaging in substance abuse, but combatting these issues starts with open communication regarding the dangers of such misuse. The study indicated that the majority of Caucasian parents were “very concerned” about nonmedical use of prescriptions, even if they were unable to identify them in their children, while figures for black and Hispanic/Latino parents were slightly lower.

Behavioral problems and lack of focus and concentration can be indicators of something more than just study jitters. Learn the facts about mental illness. How might someone in your family benefit from a mental health screening provided by the Family Guidance Center? For more information about symptoms of emotional disorders, call or click today.

Society Can Do More to Reduce Stigma of Youth Mental Illness

16035530_sThe truth about children and mental illness is complex. It’s multifaceted. It’s also a matter of life and death, in many cases. In fact, during the past 15 years, 323 students died in school shootings — but during that same time period, more than 60,000 young people committed suicide.

Many people may know a child who is living with symptoms or behaviors that seem outside the typical range of childhood actions, or are leading to problems at home or school. However, you may not realize these symptoms could be pointing to an undiagnosed mental health disorder.

Left untreated, mental illness among children can lead to lifelong problems in school, in adulthood and even remarkable increases in suicide risk. But it doesn’t have to. Most children diagnosed with a mental illness can, and will, respond favorably to professional mental health services and can maintain a high quality of life well into adulthood.

We must do more to reduce stigma and increase access for prevention and treatment of mental health problems for our children and youth. Here are some important statistics to know and share during this time, which is designated nationally as Children’s Mental Health Week:

Half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14. Common mental health problems among children include ADHD, chronic depression, mood disorders or anxiety and impulse disorders.

Only 20 percent of children with mental health disorders are identified and receive mental health treatment. This negatively impacts success in school, which is the biggest predictor of success in adulthood.

Nationally, students with a mental illness are twice as likely to drop out of school. And nearly 75 percent of those who drop out will be arrested within five years.

It is easy to see that mentally ill youth who do not get the treatment they need may lead lives of unfulfilled potential. However, many may not realize these children may also attempt to take their lives:

Every day there are approximately 12 youth suicides or 4,300 a year. In fact, suicide is the sixth leading cause of death among 5- to 15-year-olds.

Among those ages 14 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death behind homicides and accidental death.

More teens die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects and chronic lung disease — combined.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 16 percent of students report that they have seriously considered suicide.

Missouri is not exempt from these tragic statistics; in fact Missouri’s youth suicide rate is higher than the national average. This is why Children’s Mental Health Week is so important.

There is no single solution or easy answer. In fiscal year 2013, as the local Community Mental Health Center, Family Guidance Center served 767 severely emotionally disturbed children and their families in our nine-county service area. Family Guidance Center had staff in more than 20 schools in five school districts, and full-time staff in six schools.

We, among others in our region, are committed to preventing youth suicides by stressing early intervention and treatment, working with children and families before suicide ever is contemplated. Our children’s staff drove 198,000 miles delivering services last year, right into the homes and schools of local families.

As a society and as a community we can do more by focusing on reducing the stigma of mental illness and stressing the value of early identification and treatment. We can provide more training for schools and teachers on identifying children who may be at risk for mental illness. We can place more mental health professionals in schools, and we can continue working to educate the public.

As a society, a state and a community we can do better. We can’t afford not to, because the lives of our young people are too important.

Source: Guest Column, St. Joseph News Press
by:  Garry Hammond, President/CEO, Family Guidance Center