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Why Early Intervention Is So Important for Children’s Mental Health Issues

Written by Leah Campbell Updated on May 8, 2018

Everyone agrees that treating children early on for mental health issues is crucial, but barriers to diagnosis and treatment can make that difficult.

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, Elliot told Healthline, “He didn’t get better immediately. I would say it took about a year for him to level out and show signs of the kid he used to be.”

, went on to explain that, “In the context of helping parents and children in their interactions, and improving how they relate to each other on a day-to-day basis, it’s a lot easier to shape those interactions when the issues haven’t been long-standing. We know specifically that when certain interventions are implemented by age 8, there can be greatly improved outcomes later on. The studies coming out on early brain development and the lifelong impact of early intervention into behavioral issues are compelling. But parents need to first know that when they suspect something, no question is a bad question. Trust your parent radar: You know your child best.”

Barriers to proper treatment

As the AAP works to bring further awareness to this issue, Bauer admitted that there can be struggles in diagnosing children with mental health issues.

体育投注网址“A lot of these issues are really challenging and difficult to diagnose,” she explained. “There’s no imaging, no specific diagnostic test. It takes time, and some of these issues also show up in the face of complicated environments and family histories. So, pediatricians really have to try to get to know their families during well-child visits, which is sometimes the only time they see them. Some of these issues require in-depth discussions with families, though. It’s sensitive, but talking to your child’s pediatrician is the first step.”

And then there are the barriers she sees.

“Once you have a diagnosis, connecting the child to the appropriate resources can sometimes be difficult. Especially with children, medication is not always necessarily the first option,” she said. “It’s often providing the parents educational support and access to services. As you can imagine, navigating that system can be very daunting for families and, unfortunately, a lot of mental and behavioral health services are not always readily accessible to families. Especially parenting support. Sometimes those services simply don’t exist to families.”

体育投注网址And when those services don’t exist, where is a family supposed to turn?

Healthline spoke to several parents about this issue. Elliot was the only one who seemed to have experienced quick access to the treatment her son needed.

Meanwhile, Sarah Fader, chief executive officer of the nonprofit , has had her son on the list for Intensive Outpatient services for months, with no spots opening up.

He’s been struggling with mental health issues since he was 8 and has suffered panic attacks so severe he’s needed to be pulled out of school.

She’s been trying to get him a diagnosis since September, with no end in sight, and has had to bring him to the emergency room in the past because of “episodes where his temper was so explosive that he punched me or threw furniture in the house,” she told Healthline. “Still, the system could not offer us assistance or hospitalization.”

Fader is preparing to move her family to Brooklyn, where they previously lived, in the hopes of getting her son better access to services there.

体育投注网址Pauline Campos of Minnesota first brought up her hunch that her daughter may have autism when she was 6 years old. It took three years to get her evaluated, after they moved and began seeing a new pediatrician who actually listened to her concerns.

“She’s been diagnosed with high functioning autism and anxiety, along with dysgraphia,” Campos told Healthline. “Where we’re at now, we have access to the treatment she needs. But where we used to live, it wasn’t possible. Every specialist was at least four hours away. To put it as nicely as I possibly can, we were not impressed with the level of expertise or the resources available to us in northern Maine. Distance was our barrier.”

Even Elliot discovered that access to services wasn’t as easy to find as it had been the first time around when it was her daughter she was seeking help for.

体育投注网址“We knew there was something wrong early on,” she said. “By age 3 or 4. She was an extremely picky eater and had high anxiety as a child. We took her to the pediatrician who said she was fine. Nutritionists, occupational therapists, psychologists… we spent at least 10 years trying to find out what was wrong. Finally, at 15, we took her to an eating disorder center where she was diagnosed with ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.) She went into a 20-week outpatient therapy program and then began to see her psychologist once a week, then twice a month, and now once a month to check in.”

When asked what she thought the difference was between the treatment her son received and the years of fighting it took to get her daughter treated, she explained that her son’s issues were easily identifiable, while her daughter’s diagnosis of ARFID was less well-known. It wasn’t even in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) until after 2013. With so little known about what she was struggling with, it was simply harder to identify and get her the help she needed.

体育投注网址Today, Elliot writes an to help raise awareness.

Written by Leah Campbell Updated on May 8, 2018