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National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Posted 05-10-2018

Thursday, May 10th is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma. This year, efforts are focused on highlighting an integrated health approach for addressing the mental, emotional, and physical health needs of children, youth, and young adults who have experienced trauma. These traumas can range from physical abuse, sexual assault, loss of a loved one, to bullying and more. Trauma can occur in many different forms and understanding how to cope with each of them is difficult for children to process, understand, and accept. Since suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24, it is important that we address this issue and reach out to children and young adults to get them the help they need.

What is a Serious Emotional Disturbance?

There are many ways to talk about behavioral, emotional or mental disorders. All of these disorders are considered a Serious Emotional Disturbance or SED. The Individuals with Disabilities Act defines a person with a SED as a person exhibiting one or more of the following behaviors over a long period of time and to a degree that it adversely affects the person’s performance.

  • Inability to learn, which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors
  • Inability to maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers
  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
  • Chronic or long-lasting feelings of sadness or depression
  • Development of physical symptoms associated with personal problems

Children may suffer from an SED and that can go unnoticed because it is automatically dismissed as them “being a teen”, dealing with hormonal changes, immaturity or just “being a kid”. When it begins to affect their life’s direction or momentum, it’s already past the time that we need to reach out, step in and find them the help that they need. Help can come from family support, but in many cases, it’s time to seek medical guidance, counseling, therapy and in some instances, medication.

Symptoms of Mental Health Problems After a Trauma

There is no right or wrong way to react to trauma. Traumatic events in life sometimes trigger a SED in a child or young adult. Sometimes these symptoms come on suddenly directly following a trauma and other times, they appear gradually. There are some common behaviors that can indicate a problem, though, such as:

  • Sudden new fears
  • Separation anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Sadness
  • Not wanting to participate in activities
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Drop in grades
  • Feelings of anger
  • Acting out
  • Complaining
  • Irritability
  • Use of drugs or alcohol

Any of these signs, especially if they occur after a known trauma, may indicate a child needs help.

What Can Parents or Caregivers Do?

The most important thing parents can do for kids who are experiencing a SED caused by a trauma is to talk to a physician or healthcare professional so they get the help they need. They can also start a conversation with their kids allowing the child to feel safe and comfortable talking about their trauma. When discussing mental health, be sure to:

  • Talk to your child at an age-appropriate level keeping in mind that you would approach the subject differently with an adolescent than you would a child in grade school
  • Be honest and straightforward about the subject
  • Make sure the child is in a place where he or she feels safe before approaching the topic
  • Listen to what your child has to say. Often our job is to do more listening than talking.

If you have questions about childhood trauma or mental health concerns, give us a call. PORT Health works to improve the lives of children and adults by offering a comprehensive range of services including treatment options for kids who have suffered a trauma.

PORT Health is Here to Help

We believe with quality therapeutic interventions, children/adolescents are able to develop the coping tools and life skills needed to acquire the highest level of functioning possible.

Our uniquely comprehensive approach to treatment begins with gathering information through the assessment process to custom-tailor treatment for our patients. We provide several types of therapy, such as:

  • Family therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy

In addition, our agency provides specialized services including:

  • Day treatment
  • Residential services for adolescents

PORT Health's focus on patient outcomes guides our approach to all treatments, and using our results-based practice models is essential to the success of our child and adolescent services. PORT Health is committed to providing effective child and adolescent services in combination, provided by an interdisciplinary team of caring and professional counseling and medical staff.

If you or someone you know needs help overcoming a mental or substance use disorder, please call us today at 252-830-7540.



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