3 Ideas to Help Mentally Ill Children From A Mom
When I was at church yesterday, I struck up a conversation with a visitor. She mentioned she had a son with mental illness - Asperger's syndrome and bipolar disorder. I said I was a mental health consumer who also had Asperger's Syndrome, and we began to talk about life with a severe mental illness. She said several things which stood out to me, all of which could help mentally ill children. Here are three ideas that could help mentally ill kids, through the eyes of a mom.
A Medical Identification Bracelet to Help Children with a Mental Illness
I realize this one is controversial, but a medication identification bracelet for mentally ill children could save lives. Indianapolis has a tragic history of people with severe mental illness losing contact with reality (becoming psychotic) and going to the hospital only to learn that no beds are available and then getting shot and killed by the police. Sadly, communication between families and the police is often lacking. That's why a voluntary medical identification bracelet for mentally ill children, along with clear communication, could save lives.
Indianapolis has a CIT program, which stands for "Crisis Intervention Training." These officers receive special training to deal with people with severe mental illness. One officer with CIT training said that before it, he would have used force, but after it, he was able to negotiate with people with mental illness. Force is never good--someone always gets hurt and it's usually us. That's why this training is so important.
It's also possible that we may be unable to communicate with the police. In this situation, a voluntary medical identification bracelet would be helpful. It would let officers and medical staff know our history, which could help determine treatment.
I don't have a medical identification bracelet, but I do have a card in my wallet with my psychiatrist's and therapist's contact information on it. It'll have to do.
Mentally Ill Children Do Not Get Magically Better on their 18th Birthday
The visitor's son was on disability as a child, but he turned 18. Now he has to reapply for all his benefits. The only thing that's changed is his age. To help mentally ill children, we need to realize mentally ill children do not get magically better on their birthdays.
Disability as a child should automatically qualify one for disability as an adult. Things don't change just because someone turns a year older. Sadly, for a child with mental illness, the 18th birthday often destroys his/her life. They lose their benefits and it can take up to two years to have them re-instated (especially Medicare, which doesn't kick in until two years after onset of disability). Insurance often changes, and with Obamacare in jeopardy, insurance may be difficult or impossible to get due to a pre-existing condition. And--most importantly--they lose guardianship and their families lose the right to have a voice in treatment.
A friend of mine from church had a 17-year-old daughter in the state hospital. The hospital was planning to let her out on her 18th birthday, not because she was better, but because that ended the commitment. Sadly, she went into a manic episode and hanged herself before that happened.
Becoming a legal adult should not interfere with mental illness treatment. At the very least, preparations for turning 18 should begin up to a year early, to minimize disruption.
Mentally Ill Children Are Guinea Pigs
The visitor's mentally ill son was hospitalized as a child after severe emotional abuse by his father. The local children's hospital does not have a psychiatric ward, so they transferred him to a psychiatric treatment center. Unfortunately, before they transferred him, they injected him with an antipsychotic, which left him temporarily paralyzed. The paramedics assumed he was always like that until his mother explained the situation. The psychiatric facility did not have the equipment necessary to treat his medical situation, but said they did not inject children with that antipsychotic.
There are few psychiatric medicines approved for mentally ill children. I ran around unmedicated, depressed, and suicidal for years due to that fact. Some psychiatrists are willing to try medications on children, but because this is a relatively new field of medicine, the side effects and long-term effects of medications are often unknown.
We need to help children with mental illness by financing research on how to treat children with a severe mental illness. If we had a physical illness with a mortality rate as high as psychiatric illness, we'd declare a war on it and go to great lengths to find a cure or optimal form of treatment. Our children deserve no less.
What do you think would help mentally ill children? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Oberg, B. (2015, February 16). 3 Ideas to Help Mentally Ill Children From A Mom, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/02/three-ideas-from-a-conversation-at-church
Author: Becky Oberg
I have a son with Tri-Level Schizophrenia that was not Dx'd until his mid 20's because doctor's refused to help him. I have a granddaughter with CP, mild mental retardation and partially blind. I can sympathize with the people who have to deal with SSD because when she turned 18 we had to go through the whole nine yards over again to for her benefits but thankfully they did realize that she was not going to be touched by God and a miracle happen. As far as medications with my son, he does not take anything that I do not approve of. I monitor everything that is given to him and if I do not want him to have it they can't give it to him. I have guardianship over him which is probably the best thing I could have done for his safety sake. I never thought about the medic alert bracelet but will consider it now. Sounds like a very good idea especially with my son as in some situations it could be very dangerous for him if someone does not realize his condition and mental state. Great Article......thank you.....
Well done! These tips will surely help mentally ill children. Thank you