More children have mental issues than we realize
Chances are you know a child with a mental health problem. Children with such problems are not unusual, but it is important for adults and care givers to approach those children with understanding and acceptance, and to know there is qualified help available.
That was a key part of the message put out this week by the North Eastern Ontario Family and Children's Services (NEOFACS), the organization that looks after child care issues in the districts of Cochrane and Temiskaming. NEOFACS is raising awareness for Children's Mental Health week in Ontario.
"One in five children and youth in Ontario have a mental health problem. That is about 500-thousand kids in our province alone, and who on any given day are struggling with any number of disorders, such as anxiety, eating, attention deficit hyperactivity, bipolar conduct as well as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia," Richard Lambert-Bélanger, the executive director for NEOFACS, which has its headquarters officer in Timmins. A kickoff event for mental health week was held there Monday.
"And left untreated these conditions can lead to academic challenges, family conflicts, social isolation, drug use, violence and suicide," said
Lambert-Bélanger. He said identifying and treating mental health issues in children has become one of the main efforts of his organization.
In the past fiscal year, Lambert-Bélanger said the services provided by NEOFACS have included the following:
1,120 children and youth in child and family intervention programs.
327 children and youth in the intensive in-home program.
91 school consultations.
more than 370 mobile crisis situations responded by by staff.
Lambert-Bélanger said the most common reasons for interventions include children and youth with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, teen girls with eating disorders, teens who become suicidal and issues stemming from the separation and divorce of parents.
"The mental health concerns prevalent in our area mirror what we know in happening across our province," Lambert-Bélanger said.
GOOD NEWS - HELP IS AVAILABLE
"The good news is that help is available and we know it works," he added.
As part of mental health week events in the North, NEOFACS staff members are being provided with workshops and training aimed at improving their abilities.
"Our ability to develop and enhance our skills in critical in providing the very best possible services," said Catherine Simunovic, the Communications and Quality Improvement Manager for NEOFACS.
"Our children and youth are deserving of the very best so they can enjoy good mental health and live robust and productive lives, and so, when you have healthy children we can help build healthy families and healthy communities," she said.
Speaking on behalf of the NEOFACS' board of directors, Robert Perrault said awareness and education of mental health issues in children is essential to helping those children grow up with good mental health and to have access to the essential services to give them the help they need.
Kelly Wakeford, a program supervisor with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, spoke of the tremendous pressures that all young people face in today's society, adding that it is especially challenging for youngsters with mental health issues.
"They face additional pressures and barriers, which they are overcoming with the support of families, communities and services provided by people such as yourselves," said Wakeford.
She commended the professional workers at NEOFACS, as well as those in education and general health care to respond to the needs of children and youth, whether they're in crisis or require ongoing therapies. Wakeford said their efforts not only help children, but also reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.
Part of the training this week for the local caregivers will include sessions with Dr. Adele Lafrance-Robinson of Sudbury, on Emotion Focused Therapy and an Emotion Coaching Workshop.
8 May 2012