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Ask Liz Week - Teens Heading for Mental Health Crisis?

Moultrie News - 3/13/2018

Dear Liz,

I caught a part of a story about teen depression screening on the Today Show and was curious what you thought about early screening?

Mom of 11 year old twins

Dear “Mom,”

That was great news from the American Academy of Pediatrics (or AAP) and the American Psychological Association. (APA)

NBC News called it a necessary “all hands on deck” approach, with pediatricians and family practice doctors being the first line of defense. In light of the call for action following the recent tragic school shooting in Florida, all doctors will do a routine depression screening for all patients starting at age 12. And continuing assessments from that point on. One out of five teens in the US will have a at least one bout of depression ranging from mild to severe. (American Academy of Pediatrics) The tough news is that 2 out of 3 go undiagnosed and therefore not treated. My hope for parents is that they will work to remove the stigma for seeking help - starting with themselves. Experts urged parents to watch more closely, to talk and listen to their children, to encourage balance in activities and to seek support from professionals. I emphasize follow through on all treatments plans. Parents follow through (and consistency) can be the difference between health and a tragedy. Lastly experts urged parents to remove lethal means (weapons, etc) from access and for more training for pediatricians. Great question.

Safely plan for depression. Parents remove access to lethal means of acting out like weapons. And for pediatricians to have updated training on this critical assessment process. Great question. And prayers for you entering the world of teenagers times two.

Dear Liz,

If something bad happened to me as a child, but I am fine now-happy and healthy in my life, do I really have to tell? I’m 38 now.

Curious, concerned

Dear “Curious, concerned,”

Important question. And how wonderful that you have managed to overcome the issue enough to have a meaningful fulfilling life. People who have other stability in life be it family, faith, good friends and activities have more resilience and therefore can have no lasting negative effects. In the case of child abuse, if an abuser still has access to children, it is critical for other children to be protected. Abuse, especially sexual abuse, can cross generations because people don’t speak up appropriately. Many times it is out of fear or need to protect the abuser. There is a good saying, “families are as sick as their secrets.” I always recommend professional guidance on how (and who) for adults to report so it is safe and properly accepted and proper action taken. Children need age appropriate information about personal safety as well (such as understanding private parts boundaries and the difference between good touch, bad touch and confusing touch - and who to tell.) For internal mental health, the test is: if intruding thoughts, memories, dreams or flashbacks contaminate your life, you are not done with the issue and need loving appropriate treatment by a licensed professional.


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