On June 3rd the White House hosted a day-long conference with experts in mental health and many administration officials to kick off a national conversation about mental health in the United States. Obama spoke about the often sited problem of the prevalence of mental health, and that the stigma associated with having mental health problems prevents adults from sharing their situation, and therefore help is not sought or offered.
At Think:Kids we struggle to get our model to those who need it. There are many kids out there who are behaviorally challenging who don’t get help because parents are embarrassed or ashamed that their child doesn’t behave. They believe their child’s poor behavior is a “mental health problem” and therefore an embarrassment. We see behavior problems as an issue of skills not necessarily mental health. Some of the kids we see do wrestle with more classic symptoms of depression and anxiety, but many just struggle with three crucial thinking skills: flexibility, frustration tolerance and problem solving.
Think:Kids believes behaviorally challenging kids lack the skill not the will to behave well. It is so sad to think that a child suffers and parents suffer and that neither are to blame! We believe some kids are wired in a way that makes flexibility, frustration tolerance and problem solving hard for them. The result is awful behavior when they are confronted with situations that need those skills. These skills CAN BE TAUGHT and these lacking skills are not due to poor parenting but simply wiring. Our model offers a view of poor behavior as a learning disability and like most learning disabilities it is NOT THE FAULT of parent and child but IS something that can improve with the right help
“The brain is a body part too; we just know less about it. And there should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love. We’ve got to get rid of that embarrassment; we’ve got to get rid of that stigma.”
We agree. Parents need to seek help for better ways to cope with the suffering they and their kids experience. You can help us on the front lines. Not enough pediatricians and teachers know about Collaborative Problem Solving, how we perceive behaviorally challenging kids and how we can help. Simply getting these front line folks, who witness or hear about behaviorally challenging kids, to send parents to check out our website can shift the parents’ understanding of their child and make a difference!