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Why are people so divided when it comes to Children's Mental Health?
In the fight against childhood cancer, everyone is on the same side — the side of doing more research, finding better cures and saving lives. In the fight against childhood psychiatric disorders, there is no such unity — as the comment sections of even the most uncontroversial articles demonstrate. Some commentators feel that autism doesn’t exist, or if it does exist, it shouldn’t be considered a psychiatric disorder (implying that being in that category is demeaning). Others feel psychiatric medications are over-prescribed, that diet causes ADHD, or that pharmaceutical companies are engaged in a conspiracy whereby they “create disorders” in order to profit on the pain of children and families who don’t know where else to turn. All of these myths — expressed so frequently in abusive and judgmental language — preclude both civilized debate and progress in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry. We generally ignore the fact that over 10 years ago Surgeon General David Satcher conducted a historic first mental health report and informed us that most kids with psychiatric disorders are never given any treatment.
And what happens as a result? As a physician-in-training on the forefront, I see it stopping families from seeking treatment for childhood psychiatric problems, and those who finally do seek help are often demoralized and afraid. I’ve heard countless mothers say:
“I don’t want anyone to know my son has ADHD. Teachers will brand him. Parents won’t want their kids to play with him.”
And the question parents constantly ask me is this:
“How can my child get treatment without being humiliated in the process?”
Kids and their families deserve so much better.
There are of course many important and complicated issues in child mental health. We’re only beginning to understand healthy brain development and what happens in the brain when psychiatric disorders emerge — yet in the last five years we’ve made extraordinary leaps forward. We’ve begun identifying children’s symptoms earlier and treating their conditions more effectively.
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Experience v/s Memory
The pursuit of happiness of one of the most talked about things in life today. Brands try their best to make you happy, there are books written about attaining wellbeing and happiness. I came across this TED Talk about less than a year ago and was extremely fascinated by it. Daniel Kahneman is a widely considered influential living psychologist and is also the founder of behavioral economics, which in today’s time is being used extensively in marketing.
Other than pointing out three main cognitive traps that confuse individuals about their wellbeing, what really interested me about this was the mention of multiple selves. According to Kahneman, we have the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self”. He illustrates an example of a student who is listening to a symphony orchestra and is enjoying the music for about 20 minutes when it is interrupted by a loud screeching noise. Now, when the students narrated the experience, he talks about how it was ruined by the loud noise. In reality, his experience wasn’t ruined, he did enjoy it for about 20 minutes; it’s the memory of the event that left a bad taste in his mouth.
It has implications to many things, but most importantly to the significance of endings to our memory. It is imperative for movies to end on a high note, as it guides the memory of the whole experience. It is also true with almost everything we do in today’s time. You might go on a 15-day tour to Europe and are having a great time until on the 14th day you lose your bag at the airport. It makes you think your trip was a flop, but in reality it wasn’t.
Just something to think about.
I just observed the clinician I will be assisting, this semester, with the client I will be assisting her with.
I’m in for quite an experience.
From what I gathered, the client sustained a very serious brain injury and according to a number of neurological tests, there is no part of his brain that doesn’t have significant “black spots.” His entire left frontal lobe is black on the scans, according to his caregiver and he also has substantial damage to his temporal lobe. For those of you unaware, the frontal lobe is where a lot of behavioral information is stored.
Throughout the session, he hit both the clinician and supervisor, picked up and slammed the table on the ground multiple times, and acted out to the extent that his caregiver had to come in to intervene.
It seemed as though his language was limited to “Yes,” “No,” and “Okay,” with most utterances yelled.
This will be a fun semester.