Recognizing Mental Health

1 decade 1 year 4 months ago Monday, May 07 2007 May 7, 2007 Monday, May 07, 2007 10:06:22 PM CDT May 07, 2007 in News

A ceremony at the state capitol on Monday put the focus on kids, not adults. Mental health advocates and advocacy organizations gathered to raise awareness about the importance of addressing children mental health needs.

"The stigma that goes along with mental illness today is so strong that people don't want to admit that they have a mental illness and get the help that is available," said child advocate Susan Pijut.

Pijut is helping parents who have kids with mental illnesses. She's has a history of experience because her daughter tried to commit suicide five times.

"I provide support for families whether it's just going with them to the doctors office, sometimes to court, sometimes I provide transportation for them," Pijut said.

If people don't seek help for their children's mental disorders, school failure is one possible outcome, as is time in prison, higher healthcare costs in the future and suicide. Not only is medication beneficial to kids dealing with mental illnesses, but peer support is another helpful resource.

"I kind of understand where the youth are coming from and it kind of balances out, so youth feel like someone our age is helping them out as opposed to an adult telling them what to do," said Austan Barnes of Family Bridges.

Pijut says speaking up and asking for help is the most beneficial a parent can do. Mental health professionals say only 20 percent of children with mental disorders get help.

Reported by: Lorenzo Hall

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