Sunday, January 16, 2011

Federation survey: "Severe mental illness alone does not predict future violence"

The National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health released a release this week in response to the tragic shootings Oct. 8 in Tucson. The read it in its entirety, go here.

Here are the notable paragraphs:
The National Federation reminds us that most individuals who have mental health conditions – and that can be as many as one in five Americans at any given time – are no more likely to be violent than the rest of our population. A 2009 analysis of data from over 34,000 participants in the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions revealed that severe mental illness alone did not predict future violence.

We do know that in order for families and youth to be more positively engaged with mental health and other services, they need to know about them and how they can be useful. The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health encourages people to join us in making a pledge to help parents connect with other parents whose children may have behavioral, substance use or mental health difficulties and to connect youth with other youth who have experienced mental health concerns. By giving parents and youth information about how to connect with other parents and youth, we provide natural productive support for all family members to increase their wellness and recovery management skills. To find those local family-run organizations, call the National Federation at 240-403-1901.
All of our communities have families struggling with mental health issues. One thing that parents can do is share their experiences and assist others. That was a huge topic at November's FFCMH conference in Atlanta.

As I recounted in a Nov. 13 post. Gary Blau outlined five areas in substance abuse and mental health that the feds at SAMHSA and federation members would like to be included in benefit packages, such as those that are part of Medicaid and Medicare.
1. Respite care, so parents can get a break and even go back to work.
2. Therapeutic mentoring to extend services
3. Behavioral health consultation services. Monitor children in daycare and preschool and get help for those who need it. Can reduce the number of kids kicked out of daycare for aggressive behavior.
4. Use technology to deliver services. “Our kids come out treatment and don’t go to AA meetings. They do communicate via social network sites.” This can be used for e-therapy and peer counseling.
5. Parent and caregiver support services. He said that this is the number one issue for SAMHSA. “We need a cadre of parent support providers, and we’re working on a certification process.”
Not to say that your neighbor's experience with a troubled child would prevent another tragic shooting. But support and information from those "who have been there" could make a difference. These type of support services will be coming our way, whether we're ready or not. Clinicians can't do it all. There are no child psychiatrists within the borders of our 93,000-square-mile state. There are many reasons for this. But instead of waiting for an influx of child psychiatrists craving wild winds and wide-open-spaces, why not claim the resources we already have and get to work?

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