Welcome to my blog, which speaks to parents, professionals who work with children, and policy makers. Through stories from my behavioral pediatrics practice (with details changed to protect privacy) I will show how contemporary research in child development can be applied to support parents in their efforts to facilitate their children’s healthy emotional development. I will address factors that converge to obstruct such support. These include limited access to quality mental health care, influences of a powerful health insurance industry and intensive marketing efforts by the pharmaceutical industry.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

My posts have been less frequent as I am down to the wire with the final proofreading of my forthcoming book, Keeping Your Child in Mind, which will be available on August 30th. However I did not want this day to go unacknowledged, so I will reference and quote from the bulletin Promoting Resilience in Young Children created for the occasion by the State of Massachusetts, which includes multiple resources.
The future prosperity of our nation depends on the healthy growth, development and school success of each and every one of our young children. Yet, it is estimated that one quarter of the children in our state are at risk for “toxic” or emotionally costly stress caused by domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, family substance abuse and parental depression (Boston Thrive in Five research review, 2009)1. Young children can also be strongly affected by a range of issues such as a death in the family, a car accident, or long- term separation from a parent.
Because young children’s brains are still developing, trauma and stress can have long-term effects on the developing architecture of their brains. Without supports to promote resilience as they grow, children may take with them the effects of traumatic events, and be more likely to experience problems with substance abuse, depression, and stress management.
A strong relationship with a caring adult who responds sensitively to a child is the first line of defense in protecting against stress or trauma. Due to their own stressors, sometimes a parent or caregiver may need to support to help children cope appropriately.

1 National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005 ibid

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