Parents everywhere feel helpless and vulnerable and share the grief of the Newtown, Connecticut community. The conversations heard speak of how this could have been avoided.
“These tragedies are a direct result of a continued disregard for the mental health of our children and for this we are all culpable,” said Barb Flis, Founder of Parent Action for Healthy Kids. “Additionally, all the attention given to academic achievement and little to none on health education has cost our children and our nation dearly.”
According to http://www.HealthyKids.gov, one in four Americans 18 years and older, and one in five school aged children suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year. A more recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics actually has identified a link between children with mental health disorders and children identified as bullies.
“Schools should be providing a comprehensive K-12 health education curricula that includes physical health, mental health and social-emotional skill development,” said Flis. “The refusal to address the development of the whole child has produced a society of citizens who are not equipped with the skills to cope in life.”
A 2010 survey of Michigan parents shows strong support for training of staff, parents and students on mental health. More than 70% support mental health services being implemented in school. The survey also revealed that over half (65%) of parents experienced a limit on insurance benefits available for mental health services.
“Prevention and early intervention for emotional health, similar to what is provided for physical health, is the solution,” said Flis. “This much needed piece of education has been sacrificed. It is time to challenge the status quo, re-direct the conversation and commit to ensuring the education of the whole child.”
Parent Action for Healthy Kids offers 3 ways that parents can begin challenging the status quo on prevention and treatment of mental health services.
Questions to ask schools:
Is a K-12 comprehensive health education class offered?
Has staff received mental health training to recognize and refer students for help?
Does the school have a sufficient number of social workers, counselors and school psychologists on staff?
Questions to ask at work:
What mental health services are offered to your employees?
What kind of mental health services does the insurance provider cover?
Change the status quo at the state and federal level:
Be an advocate for laws to improve mental health prevention and intervention in schools, community and workplace.
American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Children-wit…
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