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Our Mental Health Blogs

Protecting Minors’ Mental Health Privacy: Where’s the Line?

Protecting Minors’ Mental Health Privacy: Where’s the Line?

Balancing a minor's mental health privacy with a parent's right to discuss her child's mental illness is a moral dilemma. Where should parents draw the line?

Several weeks ago, another blogger triggered a heated discussion on a minor’s rights to mental health privacy when they suffer from mental illness. Readers chastised the author for disclosing too much information about her child. And that made me ask: where is the line when it comes to minor’s mental health privacy.

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How We Change the World for Our Children with Mental Illness

How We Change the World for Our Children with Mental Illness

As parents, we have the power to change the world for our children with mental illness. But changing the world doesn't have to be difficult. Try these ideas.A lot of energy goes into changing the world for our children, and that’s before childhood mental illness joins our parenting struggles. If it’s been a rough day for my son, in terms of his disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) especially, I have barely enough energy to make dinner, let alone “change the world.” Making change for our children is important to me, though. After dealing with childhood mental illness the last few years, I’ve realized that, sometimes, the world around my son needs more of a “cure” than he does.

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The Miracle of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

The Miracle of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

I refused electroconvulsive therapy for my daughter for two years. Now I wonder why I waited so long. Electroconvulsive therapy isn't scary as it once was.

For two years I refused to even consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for my severely depressed daughter. After all, I saw those 1950s movies—I saw those patients emerge zombie-like with no memory. But then my daughter’s life became so bleak we had no choice but to try electroconvulsive therapy, and I’ve kicked myself for letting her suffer so long.

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Both Sides of Bullying Affect Children with Mental Illness

Both Sides of Bullying Affect Children with Mental Illness

Both sides of bullying affect children with mental illness. Their behaviors make them a target and, sometimes, make them the bully. So what is a parent to do?

My children start school this week, so I’m back to worrying about both sides of bullying. As a parent of a child with mental illness, who is not going to be mainstreamed this year, the fear is real. Will he be bullied for being “special ed”, or will his behaviors make him the bully? I tell myself that, if I can just get him through adolescence, he’ll be okay. In the meantime, though, how do I manage when I understand that both sides of bullying could affect my child’s school year?

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No, My Child Does Not Have PANDAS, He Has a Mental Illness

No, My Child Does Not Have PANDAS, He Has a Mental Illness

PANDAS symptoms resemble signs of some mental illnesses. People sometimes insist my son has PANDAS, but that only stigmatizes a mentally ill child. Here's why.Well-intentioned people often suggest that my child with mental illness isn’t actually mentally ill. They insist he has an underlying medical condition. Lately, it’s pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). To those who interject these suggestions without invitation into a conversation about mental illness, know it can be more harmful than you think.

Note: I am not an “expert”, nor am I writing this in a professional capacity. I am a parent on my own journey, which is where this blog comes from.

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Reasons I Give Psychiatric Medication to My Child with DMDD

Reasons I Give Psychiatric Medication to My Child with DMDD

Deciding to give psychiatric medication to my child wasn't easy. It was a guilt-laden and stigma-heavy journey, but my son is alive, and happier, than before.Controversy surrounds a parent’s decision to give psychiatric medication to their child with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD)–or any other mental illness. Few question parents who medicate children with diabetes or other potentially life-threatening conditions. Yet they will absolutely question those of us whose children have potentially life-threatening mental illnesses. Parents don’t take this decision lightly, though, and we know psychiatric medication for a child is not an easy fix.

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Stigma Against Parents Who Raise a Child With Mental Illness

Stigma Against Parents Who Raise a Child With Mental Illness

The stigma against parents raising a child with mental illness can impact decision-making and cost years of unnecessary isolation and shame. But there is help.

There is a stigma against parents who raise a child with mental illness. I felt this stigma against parents myself as I sat in my first National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) meeting, horror slowly crept up my body like a spider crawling across my skin. The organization provides education and support for both people suffering from mental illness and their families. I was attending a meeting for families but as I listened to one story after another, I was sure I didn’t belong (Stigma of Being Branded Bad Parents). But this was the stigma against parents who raise a child with mental illness rearing its ugly head.

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Mental Health Screenings in Schools Should Be More Inclusive

Mental Health Screenings in Schools Should Be More Inclusive

Early mental health screenings in schools catch problems like autism, but miss most other mental illnesses. Many kids can't access the programs they deserve.While mental health screenings in school may take place, they need to be more inclusive. Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and childhood mental illnesses like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can look similar on the outside, the way they’re treated in schools looks different. From the perspective of a parent of a child with mental illness, they seem like unfairly disparate worlds. It makes me think of the need for inclusivity in school mental health screenings.

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The Experience of Childhood Mental Illness in My Son’s Words

The Experience of Childhood Mental Illness in My Son’s Words

Childhood mental illness isn't rare. My 9-year old son lives with a childhood mental illness, ADHD. See how he describes living with ADHD in this interview. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and one of the least discussed mental health topics is childhood mental illness. Twelve million children in our country have a mental illness, yet fewer than one in five get treatment (Childhood Psychiatric Disorders). So not only parents suffer from our cultural silence. Our children with mental illness suffer, too.

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Accepting Your Child’s Mental Illness in the Stages of Grief

Accepting Your Child’s Mental Illness in the Stages of Grief

This is a story of accepting my child’s mental illness and moving through the stages of grief. I want this story to serve an emotional purpose. For others parenting a child with mental illness, I hope it normalizes your experience. For people who haven’t been through this but want to support a parent, I hope it makes those feelings real for you. Mental illness in children is gut-wrenching to watch. As a parent, the grief can be crippling, and because others don’t always understand, the grief can be lonely. We need understanding when parenting a child with a mental illness if we’re going to push through the stages of grief towards the hope on the other side.

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