Category Children’s Mental Health

National Association of School Psychologists Issues Call to Action

Kelly Vaillancourt, PhD, NCSP
Director of Government Relations, National Association of School Psychologists

Recently on Care for Your Mind, Dr. Anne Marie Albano contended that schools are the right place for kids to get treatment for social anxiety disorder. Today, Kelly Vaillancourt of the National Association of School Psychologists offers an easy way for you to advocate for school-based psychological services.

In order to make meaningful and substantial progress toward increasing access to comprehensive mental health services, we must call upon our local, state, and federal policy makers to act. We need to

  • educate legislators and government officials about evidence-based policies and practices
  • encourage them to allocate the necessary funding to ensure these practices are in places in our schools and communities.

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How Can You Find The Right Provider to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

Lori Blumenstein-Bott, MSW, LMSW
Executive Director, The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety

Finding a provider to treat social anxiety disorder can be a challenge, especially because so many people—mental health professionals included—do not know how to diagnose or treat it. Ms. Blumentstein-Bott shares tips from the Andrew Kukes Foundation to help people living with social anxiety disorder and their families effectively exercise their right to an appropriate provider.

One in eight people lives with social anxiety disorder. As the third most-common mental health condition, it’s everywhere, yet greatly misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mistreated. But there is help. And with access to the right treatment, individuals can expect to lead quality lives. However, lack of basic awareness and understanding about the disorder presents a major barrier to quality care. Addressing this challenge begins with getting essential information into the hands of the right people:  individuals living with social anxiety disorder, teachers, parents, and health professionals.

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Back to School Anxiety. What is Your School Doing to Help Your Child Succeed?

Anne Marie Albano, PhD
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center

Classrooms are ripe for social anxiety triggers
From being called on in class to navigating the hallways, school is rife with social stressors. However, for children and teens with social anxiety disorder, school can be even more stressful, as school presents a full day of social interactions with peers and authority figures. The day can harbor countless opportunities to be embarrassed or say something humiliating. As a result, many young children with social phobia have a hard time transitioning to school and may cling to parents or have long, tearful good-byes. Older children and teens may simply refuse to go to school.

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When Young People Suffer Social Anxiety Disorder: What Parents Can Do

Anne Marie Albano, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders,
Columbia University Medical Center

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, can have a crippling effect on young people. Children who avoid raising their hand or speaking up in school can become tweens who withdraw from extracurricular activities, and then teens who experience isolation and depression. In fact, children with social anxiety disorder are more likely than their peers without SAD to develop depression by age 15 and substance abuse by age 16 or 17.

As they head toward adulthood, young people with social anxiety disorder tend to choose paths that require less involvement with other people, and so cut short a lot of opportunities. Bright, intelligent young people who have yearnings to be lawyers or doctors, but cannot interact with other people, may choose a profession or work that is very solitary; or they might not enter the work force at all.

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Understanding the Unique Barriers for People with Social Anxiety Disorder

Today we begin a series from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a national organization of researchers and clinicians focusing on science, treatment, prevention, and cure of these disorders. In the coming weeks we will share posts from members of this organization shedding light on the disorder, by creating awareness about symptoms, treatment and support.

Mark Pollack, M.D.
Grainger Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry,Rush University Medical Center, and President, Anxiety and Depression Association of America

People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) face unique challenges when it comes to accessing mental health care, and many struggle for years before seeking any type of treatment. For family members supporting an individual with SAD, gaining a deeper understanding of the disorder can help you guide your loved one toward appropriate care and an improved quality of life.

About social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder(SAD), also called social phobia, causes extreme self-consciousness in everyday social situations. (http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder) People with SAD have a strong fear of embarrassing themselves or being judged by others. It interferes with an individual’s ability to form relationships, succeed at school or work, and complete everyday tasks that involve interacting with others in person or even on the phone. SAD can have a significant impact on nearly every aspect of a person’s life.

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Should We Screen Middle and High School Students for Mental Health Disorders?

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90% of youth who die by suicide suffer from a treatable mental illness. 

65% experience symptoms for a full year prior to their death.

When we identify kids at risk, we can save lives.

Over 10 years ago, President George Bush accepted The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health recommendation that the federal and state governments work to implement broader access for youth mental health screenings as a matter of public health.  While we are still waiting for federal assistance, local organizations are taking up the challenge and offering free mental health screenings to middle and high school age students. One of those organizations, Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI) has been quietly running a mental health screening program, Youth Screen, in Chicago-area schools since 2007.

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Congress Should Provide for Students’ Mental Health

Jessica Eagle, M.A.Ed., N.C.C.
Legislative Representative, 
American Counseling Association

Friendly Teens

Since the Newtown tragedy, a spotlight has been placed on the mental health of our country’s youth, creating an expectation among many Americans that we would come together as a nation and respond to the need for improved school safety and mental health access. Indeed, dozens of bills were introduced in the Congress, and numerous Congressional hearings on mental health were held. In the Senate, 95 Senators voted in favor of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, which would have reduced youth suicide and mental health barriers to academic and social success.

Unfortunately, the effort to pass comprehensive mental health reform legislation has lost its momentum, leaving our schools and communities in a dire situation due to a one-two punch of funding cuts by state and local governments, and a polarized Congress’ inability to agree on a budget to fund essential community-based programs that support our country’s most vulnerable populations.

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Mental Health in Schools Act: Giving Kids a Fair Shot

Franken-071009-18449 0003It’s estimated that one in five U.S. youth experience mental illness. Yet less than half of kids with a diagnosable mental health disorder receive mental health treatment. (Some studies put this number as high as 80%.)

The consequences of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness in children are tragic. Over the past two decades, suicide rates have doubled among kids ages 10 to 14, and suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.

What’s more, half of the high school students with mental health issues end up dropping out. Children with mental illness are also at higher risk for developing substance abuse problems in adolescence.

We know that children do better in school when they are well fed and well rested. Good mental health is just as important to kids’ school success, and children who have access to mental health treatment do better academically and socially.

Yet we don’t do a very good job of meeting the mental health needs of school-age children. The Mental Health in Schools Act, introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in the Senate and Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) in the House, hopes to correct that. It would expand access to mental health services in schools and give kids experiencing mental illness a fair shot at success.

“Addressing the mental and emotional needs of our kids is just as important as keeping them safe from physical injury and illness,” Sen. Franken said, in prepared remarks. “Healthy kids grow into healthy adults, and if we’re able to catch and address mental health issues early, we can help kids become productive members of society.”

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