We were playing a game. Or so I thought. My 8-year old and I were presented with a rarity: an afternoon of choices. Like many kids, she's been home all day, nearly every day for more than a year. She'd developed an unhealthy affection for a computer game, so I decided that we needed to get out of the house.
I was vaccinated, we were masked. We shopped for Mother's Day gifts for her grandmothers, and then I asked her what else she wanted to do.
She turned it into a guessing game. I was failing miserably, so she spelled it out. I turned the letters over in my head, thinking I must be misunderstanding. She said she wanted to die.
This led to an in-depth discussion. I learned that she wanted to pause--like in her computer game, take a break and regenerate in a new place. She wasn't suicidal but she was extremely unhappy.
And she's not alone: one in five American children requires mental health treatment. We're in the lucky minority, in that she has been receiving treatment. Of those children who need it, only one in five receives mental health treatment.
Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
May 6 marks Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, and this year, that awareness is more important than ever. A year ago, we shut down our schools and our communities, to keep everyone safe. We predicted a few months of being careful and then a return to normalcy. A year later, things are still not back to normal.
This lack of normalcy has created a mental health problem for many. And experts predict that children will bear some of the greatest burden of this "unprecedented year."
Some of that will be exacerbated by a lack of treatment providers. Some will be exacerbated by poverty, parental mental health needs, and the stigma still associated with mental illness.
Fortunately, there are efforts to expand mental health services available in schools.
Resources for Help
Children's Mobile Crisis Services
Does your family need extra support? Does it feel like your child is spiraling out of control? The video below explains our child mobile crisis services. You can reach our children's crisis therapists by calling emergency services at 540-373-6876.
We offer board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists, specially trained therapists, and services geared toward youth.
In Intensive Care Coordination, our staff work with community partners to keep children in the home, instead of in residential care. For youth who are in outside placements, we work to get them home as quickly as possible. We collaborate with other agencies to offer wrap-around services to children and adolescents who have been identified as high-risk for outside placements by the local Family Assistance Planning Team.
To learn about child and adolescent outpatient services, call the clinic in your locality:
- Caroline County: 804-633-9997
- Fredericksburg: 540-373-3223
- King George County: 540-775-9879
- Spotsylvania County: 540-582-3980
- Stafford County: 540-659-2725
Even children who do not have a diagnosable mental health condition require some extra behavioral healthcare support. Here are some resources to help:
We offer Parenting Check-Ins to provide extra, virtual support for families. Each month, our Prevention Team tackles a different topic impacting families. There's no cost. Participation is open to anyone seeking to build and strengthen their parenting skills. Family Activity Bags will be provided after each session (via scheduled contactless pick-up). Check out our upcoming topics below:
Life changes significantly when we have children. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel social isolation. It’s easy to dismiss your own needs when you are a parent. But, having a social network and other parent friends to connect with is vital to your own well-being and for your family.
It can be hard to talk to your kids about substances like prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, heroin, and other drugs. But it's one of the most important conversations you need to have - especially as Virginia moves forward to legalize adult use marijuana. And it's never too early to talk about making healthy choices.
Join the RACSB Prevention Services team to learn tips and habits to utilize when speaking with your children about substance use and abuse.
Make a Mindfulness Jar
Here's a fun craft that helps children (and adults) regulate their emotions:
Anxiety Journals for Children
Here is an activity workbook and journal for children:
And here is a Coronavirus-specific anxiety journal: