Video: Make Stigma Disappear
Video: Three strategies parents could use for challenging behavior
Video: Tips for living with a sibling with challenging behavior
Families of children with mental health, emotional and behavioral needs often navigate multiple systems to access necessary supports and services. Families may also face additional challenges due to stigma about mental health. PACER’s Inspiring Opportunities Project will bring together parents, youth and professionals to help families receive the resources and support their children need. This project will also promote increased understanding of children’s mental health, emotional, and behavioral need in the broader community.
In The News
Gov. Dayton proclaims September as National Recovery Month
September marks the 27th annual National Recovery Month, designed to bring greater awareness to the value of chemical and mental health treatment. This year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” highlights the value of peer support by educating, mentoring and helping others.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported in 2014 that about 21.5 million Americans ages 12 and older (8.1%) were classified with a substance use disorder in the past year. Of those, 2.6 million had problems with both alcohol and drugs. By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.
PACER’s Children’s Mental Health and Emotional or Behavioral Disorders Project brings together parents, youth, and professionals to help families receive the resources and support their children need.
Recovery Month will include a variety of ceremonies, activities, and celebrations across the state. Read Gov. Dayton’s proclamation of September as Recovery Month .
How well do you know your Mental Health Facts?
Having a mental health challenge or a behavioral disorder is more common than most people imagine. In fact, children are diagnosed with mental health disorders at a rate of 6.8% and at an even higher rate in adolescence. It is likely that each of us has known someone with a mental health or behavioral challenge or had one ourselves. Mental health disorders don’t discriminate based on age, race, gender, ethnicity, occupation, religion, economic class, or ethnic background. Misconceptions about mental health can contribute to the lack of funding and public support for effective treatment and supports for children and young adults.
Check Your Knowledge
True or False: Mental illnesses can be cured with willpower.
False. A mental illness does not stem from character flaws, and willpower doesn’t cure a mental illness. Mental illness is a category of many different mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, anorexia, or bipolar disorder. Current research provides a better understanding of how the brain works and what happens when a child, youth, or adult experience challenges with thought, mood, behavior, or interactions with others. Just as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes are medical conditions, so is mental illness.
To learn more about mental illness and brain research:
True or False: A youth who has biological parents with a mental illness will also develop a mental illness.
False. Research has found that having a biological relative such as a parent, grandparent, or sibling with a mental illness is a risk factor; it does not determine whether someone will develop a mental illness. Other risk factors associated with developing a mental illness include having a chronic medical condition, experiencing abuse as a child, experiencing traumatic life situations, exposure to toxins such as alcohol during pregnancy, or misuse of substances including alcohol or drugs. Research demonstrates that protective factors can help to counteract these risk factors. Examples of protective factors include a good social support system, adequate food, safe shelter, financial security, good problem-solving skills, and access to positive recreational activities.
True or False: Children and teens can have a mental illness.
True. Childhood mental health disorder is a term used to explain all mental disorders that can be diagnosed and begin in childhood. Many adults who have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder experienced the onset of their symptoms in adolescence or childhood. Embarrassment, fear, peer pressure, lack of community support, and stigma can prevent or delay a person from getting help. Early intervention is important to managing and recovering from mental health challenges.
To learn more about children’s mental health:
True or False: Children or youth with mental health challenges never get better.
False. With the right kind of medical care, many children and youth who experience mental health challenges can and do lead healthy, productive, and satisfying daily lives. While the illness may not go away, the symptoms or challenges can be managed with appropriate treatment and support. Many individuals benefit from supports and interventions that are evidence-based and guided by principles of self-determination, recovery, and cultural competency.
To learn more about leading healthy, productive, and satisfying daily lives:
True or False: When children or youth receive a mental health diagnosis, they will have to take medications.
False. A mental health diagnosis does not always mean the child or youth will need to take medications. Some children and youth benefit from medications as part of their overall treatment plan, but there are other interventions that can be considered.
True or False: People with mental illnesses are violent.
False. The majority of people living with a mental illness are not violent and are not at risk of becoming violent. One research study looked at violence risk among people with serious mental illness and found a mental health diagnosis is not a significant indicator of whether a person will be violent. Factors that do tell us something about whether a person might be at risk for violence include: (1) a history of violent victimization early in life; (2) substance use; and (3) exposure to violence in their environment. There are a small number of individuals who experience mental health challenges that can include aggression. For these individuals, access to treatment, supports, and timely intervention are necessary components for recovery.
To learn more about mental health and violence:
True or False: Having a mental illness is different than having an intellectual impairment.
True. Many people confuse mental illnesses with intellectual disabilities, but they are different from each other. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, mood, daily functioning, or ability to relate to others. Intellectual disabilities are a type of developmental disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning (e.g., a person’s IQ or intellectual quotient) and adaptive behavior (social and practical skills). Individuals who have an intellectual disability are more susceptible to developing a mental illness.
To learn more about mental illness and intellectual impairment:
True or False: All youth who misuse drugs or alcohol are choosing not to get their act together.
False. Youth who misuse drugs or alcohol may be doing so to self-medicate because of an unidentified or untreated mental health condition. They may also be struggling with an addiction that requires medical intervention. Ongoing alcohol and drug use can play a role in the development or worsening of some mental health symptoms and disorders. A youth struggling with alcohol or chemical use could benefit from a comprehensive professional evaluation to identify possible treatment or supports.
True or False: Parents who have a mental illness can be good parents.
True. The qualities that make “good parents” apply to all parents, including those who live with a mental illness. Some parents may require extra assistance with parenting tasks when faced with any medical condition or health challenge including a mental illness. Unfortunately, parents face significant barriers to accessing treatments and parenting supports because of the stigma associated with mental illness. Family life can be healthy and meaningful when both parents and children acknowledge and understand the illness, have support, and communicate with each other about the issues.
To learn more about parenting with a mental illness:
True or False: Schools have a responsibility to help children with mental health challenges.
True. Children are required to attend school. Public schools are required to provide education for all students, including those with disabilities. There are options for a child with mental health challenges who is having difficulty with school, including both informal and formal supports. An informal support could be attending a “friendship group” or having a “check-in” person. A formal support might include having a 504 Plan, or doing an evaluation for Special Education services. Some schools have school-wide initiatives to promote the mental health and wellness of all students. These might include positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS), social-emotional learning (SEL) , school-linked mental health services, bullying prevention initiatives, trauma-informed care, and youth mental health crisis response services.
To learn more about supports in schools:
- apa.org – working with ethno-culturally diverse population
- casel.org – effective social and emotional learning programs
- massgeneral.org – finding appropriate interventions
- PBISmn.org - research
- nami.org – diverse communities
- pbis.org – positive behavior support for family
- samhsa.gov – serving the needs of diverse populations
- usf.edu– school based mental health services
Disney Babble has partnered with PACER Center to help parents better understand and navigate the needs of children with mental health and behavior issues.
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Post by PACER Center on Disney Babble blog
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Do you have a feisty toddler who won't stop leaving tooth marks? PACER shares some helpful tips to address this troubling behavior.
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Student Success Stories
Hello. My name is Oliver and I am 19 years old. I am a recent high school graduate and have been a Youth Board member and officer for 5 years. This fall I will be attending the University of Iowa.
I have lots of hobbies including reading, listening to music, traveling, and watching sports.
Anxiety has been a major challenge for me, and I have discovered that reading is a good coping tool. It kind of settles me down.
The best tip I could give you today would be to see each and every person through their abilities and not their disabilities.