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Harvard Study Pegs How Parental Substance Abuse Impacts Kids

In the past week, there's been a groundswell of new research affirming the impact that parents’ mental health and substance abuse have on their children’s development and life outcomes. A few days ago, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) reported new findings that a father’s psychological well-being significantly influences the well-being of his offspring.

Today, researchers from Harvard Medical School (HMS) announced new findings that children whose parents (or caregivers) abuse alcohol—or use, produce or distribute drugs—face significantly higher risks of medical and behavioral problems, including substance abuse.

Positive Parenting Tips

 

As your child grows and develops, there are many things you can do to help your child. These links will help you learn more about your child’s development, positive parenting, safety, and health at each stage of your child’s life.

Child Development Facts from CDC

 

The early years of a child’s life are very important for his or her health and development. Healthy development means that children of all abilities, including those with special health care needs, are able to grow up where their social, emotional and educational needs are met.

 

Having a safe and loving home and spending time with family―playing, singing, reading, and talking―are very important. Proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep also can make a big difference.

Kids Benefit From Counseling At The Pediatrician's Office

Pediatricians often recommend some mental health counseling for children who have behavior problems like defiance and tantrums. But counseling can be hard to find. Children are much more likely to get help if the counselor is right there in the doctor's office, a study finds.

The children in the study had behavior problems, and many also had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety. They were 8 years old, on average, and two-thirds were boys.

Half of the 321 children were referred to outside counselors who took the family's insurance. The other half had six to 12 individual or family counseling sessions with social workers placed in pediatricians' offices as part of the study, which was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of the Health Sciences.

Tot Therapy: Psychiatrists Join Up With Pediatricians

Many parents know the scenario: Their child shows signs of anxiety or depression, throws fits or has trouble focusing. They tell the pediatrician, who has only 15 minutes to see them, a crowded waiting room and limited experience with mental-health issues. If the problem seems serious, the parents get a list of child psychiatrists or psychologists to call. There is a months long wait to see them and many don’t take insurance.

Mental Health in America

For the fourth year in a row, Mental Health America (MHA) released its annual State of Mental Health Report, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on several mental health and access measures. This year, Massachusetts came out on top overall with Nevada coming in 51st.

In developing the report, MHA looked at 15 different measures to determine the rankings. MHA hopes to provide a snapshot of mental health status among youth and adults for policy and program planning, analysis, and evaluation; to track changes in prevalence of mental health issues and access to mental health care; to understand how changes in national data reflect the impact of legislation and policies; and to increase the dialogues and improve outcomes for individuals and families with mental health needs.

Developmental Milestones

 

Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye bye” are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act, and move (crawling, walking, etc.).

Intervening During Childhood and Adolescence to Prevent Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Developments on multiple fronts are rapidly converging to create focused attention on the possibilities of preventing mental, emotional and behavioral disorders through interventions with children, youth and their families and communities. Mental health disorders create enormous psychosocial and economic costs during childhood and adolescence, including reduced school achievement and increased child welfare and juvenile justice costs – estimated at $247 billion in 2007 (Eisenberg and Neighbors, 2007). Approximately half of all adults affected by mental health problems recall that their disorders started by their mid-teens, and three-quarters reported onset by their mid-twenties (Kessler, Berglund, et.al., 2005). 

Mental Health Surveillance Among Children - Recent Statistics

Mental disorders among children are described as "serious deviations from expected cognitive, social, and emotional development" (US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, and National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health; 1999). These disorders are an important public health issue in the United States because of their prevalence, early onset, and impact on the child, family, and community, with an estimated total annual cost of $247 billion. A total of 13%–20% of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year, and surveillance during 1994–2011 has shown the prevalence of these conditions to be increasing.

Many Parents Missing the Link between Child Behavior and Health

Many children experience problems with behavior, emotions, or learning. Health care providers rely on parents to describe how children act outside of the doctor’s office, in order to identify potential problem areas. However, it can be challenging for parents to recognize their child’s behavior patterns and understand what should be shared with the child’s health care provider. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked a national sample of parents of children 5-17 years old about discussing their child’s behavior or emotions with the doctor. 

The New Standard of Pediatric Behavioral Health Assessment

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