From the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses:
Four million children and adolescents in this country suffer from a serious mental disorder that causes significant functional impairments at home, at school and with peers. Of children ages 9 to 17, 21 percent have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment.1
Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14. Despite effective treatments, there are long delays, sometimes decades, between the first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment. An untreated mental disorder can lead to a more severe, more difficult to treat illness and to the development of co-occurring mental illnesses.3
In any given year, only 20 percent of children with mental disorders are identified and receive mental health services.
I'd wager, in the adoption of older children, our numbers will be higher, only because clearly we are generally parenting children from parents who were often unable to parent due to a mental disorder.
So do the math, if those 26% of adults birth children, and the genetics are there, what does that mean for the welfare system of America?
It means folks best wake up and smell the coffee.
Thankfully, the first, and best, provision for this, these almost catastrophic numbers, is the fact that we foster and adoptive parents are armed with the Federal Adoption Assistance Medicaid that pays for therapists, counselors, hospitalizations, programs, resources, and doctors.
We also generally have caseworkers who know the signs, who can see what's coming sometimes and thus prepare and guide us. In my case I've been extremely blessed by an intuitive and brilliant longtime caseworker/supervisor who can pinpoint issues with accuracy, then guiding me in proper directions to seek help.
We parents also receive this therapy via our interaction with our children in these sessions, I've also been blessed by genius therapists.
However, blamo, the ongoing, seemingly unrelenting toll it has taken upon me is what has left me so tearful this month.
I'm dealing with one I didn't see coming, even though I was well aware, via the biological grandmother's description of extended family members, the genetic propensity for these issues. This child of mine also doesn't have Medicaid, which has happened in my family for 8 of my children, due to various reason, but all were covered under my family insurance policy that rarely pays much at all, huge deductibles, now I have mounting bills.
Yesterday I received the update on a psyc eval, in which I'd asked them to change the line saying one of mine had missed appointments, because we hadn't missed appointments. At nearly the same moment, in the next email, I realized that I'd missed an appointment for another child for another reason not involving mental health. Oh my. That's not like me at all. I was so surprised I went back to look at my calendar on that date, yep sho'nuff, I missed it, totally my fault.
So I'm at a loss lately, emotionally grieving over what this first mentioned kid is likely going to have to endure in life, knowing that at this moment I'm not dealing with rational thoughts from them, fortunately this is not a violent nor aggressive teenager, but clearly one with an inability to rationalize at the moment. So this morning we will be meeting a DBT therapist, beginning anew with a new technique, hopefully in order to better manage that which we are facing right now.
Often we parents face so much outside blame based on our children's outbursts or criminal activities stemming from their mental illnesses, adding to our own stress and strain, contributing to PTSD, and our own need for quiet time, that often we won't get due to the increased need to take action for our children who desperately need our attention, advocacy and aid.
Yesterday again I did get garden time, which is my number one Go To since there's no beach in my back yard. I even splurged and called Dominos for our cheap pizza delivery that I don't eat, but that the kids love. "Miss Bodie," the manager said, looking at his caller ID, "You should always call on Monday, that's our cheapest delivery date." How had I not known that? Ten pizzas delivered el cheapo, but if I did it every Monday we'd need more bucks in our budget, I generally save this treat for when I'm emotionally whacked out.
DBT went splendidly, I'm again encouraged and hopeful that progress can, and will be, made slowly.
A contributing issue is a crappy outside influence that has caused a great deal of problems. I know I can't physically stop what's going on, but I am documenting the instances, I have let law enforcement know about it, and, as the therapist stated today, "We are working on the inside of the kid in order to make them strong enough to be able to reject outside negativity, that they may now not even see. It's like dealing with wet cement at this age, the brain is malleable."