Doctor advises mid-term mental check-up
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Now that we are a couple months into the school year, this is a perfect time to do a well check on your own kids, not physically, but mentally.
That’s the advice from Dr. Sarah Wakefield, Chair of Psychiatry at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.
She says that check-up can start with questions you might ask anyway...but with a new purpose.
For example, “‘How’s school going? You know, any trouble in the hallways? How’s your relationship with your kids in your class or your teachers or your new coach?’ So really kind of natural time to have those conversations.”
Dr. Wakefield says if a child begins talking about one friend or one group that is frustrating to them, it’s a good time to say ‘hey, what’s going on with that?’ Also, you can always learn more from your school, thanks to a program supported by TTUHSC called CATR. That acronym stands for Campus Alliance for Telehealth Resources. It gives TTUHSC the chance to partner with schools to support the mental health of
the students in that school. She explains, “We also have direct assessment and direct services for students who a school may find, you know, ‘Hey, I’m really worried about this kiddo and with the parent guardian consent, we can then provide those services directly to the student and family’.”
The idea is to help families avoid mental health issues in school or at least spot them early so they can be treated.
Dr. Wakefield says, “It is so critically important to intervene as early as possible. When we intervene early, we have to intervene less, and we make so much of a bigger change with that lesser intervention. when we wait and ignore and let things fester, then we create much more suffering and we create a
bigger problem, a bigger mountain to climb.”
Pediatricians today are encouraged to routinely screen children for depression. But ahead of that appointment, there is an online screening which could help parents look for clues if a child has mental health issues.
You can find that at https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/parent/
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