Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

It's Mental Health Awareness Week in Canada, and it's a great opportunity to get the conversation going. As parents, we're so very hesitant to share with people that our children have mental health problems. But why is that?

For one thing, we're afraid that they won't understand. Fair enough, they might not. But how is not talking about it going to help change that?

Secondly, we're afraid people might judge us or our children. Another good point. But let's be honest here -- children with mental illnesses that manifest outwardly in bad behaviour simply look like brats to the outside world and we, their parents, look lazy and negligent. Ergo, we're already being judged. So once again, how is not talking about it going to help?

Third, the term "mental illness" is pretty damn scary. It calls to mind the mental institutions of old and images of sociopaths and other people society says we should be afraid of. But are those images accurate, or are we buying into the very stigma we need to fight?

The fact remains that 1 in 5 children will suffer from a mental illness at some point, and not talking about it isn't going to make it go away. What it will do, however, is continue to alienate them and the people who love them.

Ask yourself this. If 1 in 5 children has a mental illness, why do so many parents feel alone? Answer? Because nobody talks about it.

So here's what I'm proposing. What if rather than hiding from it, we talked about it? What if rather than being embarrassed about it, we educated people about it? What if rather than complaining about it, we did something about it? 

As scary as it can be,I don’t think we’re going to change the perception of mental illness unless we embrace it.

Who's with me?



11 comments:

  1. It's terrible that in this day and age there are still the same stigmas associated with those two words.
    That's why we have to keep talking about it. Those 1 in 8 adults who have an illness may not even reach out bc they're afraid.

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    1. You're right, Kimberly. And kids with mental illnesses often grow up to be adults with mental illnesses. Early intervention is key to helping these kids. So let's you and me keep talking about it, OK? I think we're doing a damn fine job. ;-)

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  2. I'm with you! I've found that if I mention that my son has ADHD/ODD, I get a little more sympathy than judgments. I think it's the area I've moved to recently. My son was just DX'd 5 months ago (after 5 1/2 years of being judged, told to spank more, told to be tougher, told to be softer, being kicked out of daycare, kicked out of preschool, kicked out of play groups, etc.). I moved out of a metro area to a small town of 16,000 and have gotten more help here than I could've ever imagined. The school is helpful, the doctors aren't blaming me, and I feel so much better than I have since he was born. I agree! Stand up and let people know!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you've found somewhere to get the support you need. I find the more I know about ADHD/ODD and the better I can explain it to people, the more they're willing to listen. Keep up the fight!

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. I openly talk about my childrens disabilities i have 3 children one with adhd and 2 with odd.... Plus 3 step kids..... Its seems the more i talk to people about it i have found alot of children have some level.of diabilities people are just afraid to.talk about it like it make u a bad parent.

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    1. There are so many kids with invisible disabilities out there, and they all have parents! We can't all be doing something wrong. ;-) I'm glad you're talking about it.

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  5. me, me, me!! I have a son with FASD and a daughter with ADHD. I talk about them all the time. If I don't advocate for what they need who will?!?

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    1. My thoughts exactly, Tina. Our kids have a lot to deal with, and they need us in their corner. Not talking about something doesn't make it go away, but talking about it from the beginning can make it easier to advocate for them. Keep it up!

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