Wednesday, October 27, 2010

State Rep. John Mayo on Mental Health Services for Children

Below is a message Mims received from State Rep. John Mayo (House District 25) on the subject of mental health services for children in our state. I wanted to give you a chance to read it before I post Mims' excellent response.

God, please help us, to help those, who cannot help themselves.

Imagine, you are welcoming into this world your very first child (or your last or middle). You count all the fingers, toes, eyes, ears, you get the required tests...How wonderful can it be? All is normal...you even think perfect.

At three, you begin noticing little things going wrong with your child's behavior, at four your child is actually rebellious, sometimes injuring himself. At five you seek help, at six you begin drug therapy, at seven you begin the long fight with the school system, doctors, psychologists. People think your perfect child from God has just stepped out of hell.

She's passed off from one teacher to another, one doctor after another tells you he'll grow out of it. A psychiatrist tells you to give the new prescription time to work. Meanwhile, your child has been suspended from fifth grade or had trips to the hospital for 53 days. You've taken off work because you can't find a sitter to be at home with her and he cannot be left alone at 15 because he might burn the house down.

You've now lost your job because your daughter has been shunned, passed over, kicked out of every store he's ever been in. You don't know what to do. You cry every night because your son has no social life, no sleepovers, no invitations to birthday parties, no friends; or, everyone is afraid of or bullying your daughter.

I've been a lot of places and heard a lot of things over the last 11 years, but I have not been impacted like I was this morning as six parents and a grandparent told a group of people looking to reform mental health services to children at a forum in Jackson.

Sen. Hob Bryan and Rep. Steve Holland, chairs of their respective chamber's health committees hosted the event along with the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and the Interagency Coordinating Council for Children and Youth.

I spotted one other legislator in the audience, chair of House Education Committee Cecil Brown.

The parents and psychologists spoke of the lack of coordination between the delivers of mental health services, schools, and doctors. Parents were particularly hard on doctors who like to prescribe drugs, but have absolutely no knowledge of outreach organizations, support groups, or counseling treatment.

They were hard on the schools where they said teachers refuse to take certain students or shunt them off as soon as they walk into the classroom, and they had particular disdain for psychologists who have their formulas for treatment and do not hear what the parents want or need to help them cope with their children.

The bottom line purpose of the meeting was find ways to coordinate these services and disseminate information to caregivers and teachers in order to serve the nearly 80,000 Mississippi children who are in need of mental health services.

"I don't want my child to go to jail," said one Mother through her tears. "But, that is where he is headed. I need help. He needs help. He's a good boy. He is a loving boy. I don't want my boy to go to jail. I just do not know what to do."

Feel lucky if the only problem you have with your daughter is she can't find the right prom dress.

There are some people with some very heavy problems out there, people.

We need to find ways to do God's work and help them.

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