Anyone who has tried to get mental health services with private insurance has found out that most insurers look at mental health services as nice but not as important as other health services. Broken leg-- no problem, mental health problem—a couple of visits and you better be cured. This rarely is adequate for any mental health issue and especially with children. So as a family struggles with the disruptions that having a child with a mental health problem can cause, treatment from a mental health professional can seem like “a bridge too far.”
As this country struggles to recover from the budget deficit causes by the billions to banks and other corporations, children’s programs are on the chopping block. After all not many elected officials get campaign contributions from children. As officials talk about the world they want to leave to their children and grandchildren it just doesn’t include support for families with children in need of mental health services.
We are fortunate to have an organization in Howard County like the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health. Founded by Jane Walker and other children’s mental health advocates and incorporated in 1999 they provide a wide range of support services to families dealing with mental health issues in children. I have known Jane for a very long time going back to when she worked with the Family Life Center. Jane is one of those tireless advocates that make Howard County such a rich community with supportive services.
Funded from a variety of public and private funds the Coalition provides one on one support to families in need of resources and support. Even though their main office is in Columbia the Coalition provides service in many locations throughout Maryland. Information on local mental health resources, support groups, webinars and publications are just some of the services they provide.
The first week in May is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. The First Lady of Maryland Judge Katie O’Malley is the Honorary Chair for the week in Maryland. As a Maryland judge our First Lady sees the impact of mental health issues on families in her court every day. Untreated mental health issues can lead to social ills such as homelessness, domestic violence and abuse. Society can pay now with mental health service or pay later with more expensive interventions.
I received the following information on NAMI of Howard County:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder. NAMI provides education, support, and advocacy to achieve our goal of freeing people with mental illnesses and their families from stigma and discrimination, and to facilitate access to mental health treatment that expedites recovery. NAMI is a non-profit organization and does not charge for any of its programs or services. The website for the national organization is www.nami.org
The Howard County affiliate of NAMI offers support groups and educational courses based on a model created by the national organization. For specific information about the Howard County affiliate, go to www.nami.org/sites/
Mental illness is a serious medical condition that affects one in four families, translating to over 25,000 households in Howard County (based on the 2010 census).
Mental illness usually strikes individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable. About one in ten children has a serious mental or emotional disability. Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, three-quarters by age 24!
Mental illnesses are treatable. Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports. The earlier treatment begins, the better the prognosis for recovery.
NAMI Howard County offers six family support groups and two for adults who have a mental illness. Since you are specifically addressing children’s mental health, I have attached a flier with information about our two support groups for parents of children and teens with mental health issues. Feel free to copy and paste the information to your blog.
We also offer three life-changing educational courses:
-Family-to-Family is a course for people who have an adult relative who has a serious mental illness
-NAMI Basics is a course for parents of children and teens with mental health issues (see attached flyer)
-Peer-to-Peer is a recovery education course for adults who have a mental illness
Swim Run Write Blog has an interesting blog today about memories of an earlier Columbia.