Kids and Mental Health…Kids and Anti-depressants
Teens face challenges and pressures and expectations and their own personal development issues. So it's not surprising that the teen population is challenged when it comes to emotional health. How do you keep stressed teens from turning to drugs, alcohol or even high risk sex ?
- (a) It requires communication so choose times that are organic like car pool rides home, family dinner, an impromptu snack stop on the road.
- (b) Walk a fine line between established rules and regulations and reasonable expectations. Yes, breaking rules does have consequences - but make them appropriate for the offense. Have reasonable expectations for your teen.
- (c) Get teens involved with after school activities - sports, philanthropic, whatever. Leave them with too much time and they will get into trouble.
- (d) Inspire them and motivate them. Be there for them when there is failure but let them know that failure is merely a learning lesson. Don't protect them from handling life, but do support them.
- (e) Know your kid's friends and be fair but honest when those friends are clearly up to no good. You need to trust your instincts but you also need to walk a fine line when it comes to their peer groups and what you believe is good for them
Some recent new statistics reveal that more than half the kids on anti-depressants are only receiving drugs - no therapy. Insurance claims that were tracked from 2002-2006 involving 6.8 million kids and teens showed that just over 40% of kids had more than one or two claims for therapy, after being diagnosed and given an anti-depressant. Problem solving and stress management need to be an integral part of treating kids who suffer from depression and in fact, kids who receive medication plus therapy recover much faster. Lack of insurance coverage for kids, particularly when it comes to mental health issues, has certainly contributed to the problem. And it seems that some parents are embarrassed about therapy for their kids, preferring to simply "get the drugs and fix the problem privately."
Mental health professionals want parents to realize that though a pill can certainly help, therapy can help a teen develop the coping skills they will need to get through life.