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Spokesperson on mental health shares ways to help your child who is struggling

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:45 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - May is “National Mental Health” month and Amy McCaughan is here with how to help your child be kind to their mind. Thank you so much for coming I appreciate the opportunity thank you. And you are with Meridian so you all are the experts when it comes to mental health. You’re there to help people and answer any questions. So let’s start with why is this such a big deal?

Well, you only have to turn on your tv to see why it’s such a big deal. I mean the recent shooting in Texas is an example. We are seeing an increase in violence, and an increase in behaviors, you know the pandemic has brought its own set of problems. And it doesn’t just impact adults. It really does impact our children too. I mean one in 5 children suffers from mental illness. And we don’t always see the signs, and we don’t always understand what’s really going on with our kids and we might even come from that mindset that if we brush it off, this is just some bad behavior or just a phase they are going through when really it can be much more.

So in that case, if parents see that their child is having a hard time coping, there is a stigma around it, so this is very normal?

Yes yes, it is, and I would say it’s very easy for us to think that that happens to so and so but it doesn’t happen to our family when in reality it is normal, and to be able to start having these open discussions and being able to see that our children do need help when there is no shame in help. We all need help sometimes. I mean just like a bag man might help us carry our grocery bags out of Walmart. We all need help occasionally, and there is no shame in that.

Awesome analogy there, and then to have these open conversations with their child, parents need to know what to look for. So what are some things parents should be aware of if they see their child and be like, okay I think my child is having some problems coping?

Yes, so we might see an increase in withdrawal where they are not participating in activities like in school or not participating in conversations at home. Maybe they are getting on their phones and staying there and not engaging or might see anger over small things, things you wouldn’t think would create such anger, and you see this violent destruction or you see these screaming fits. They just aren’t appropriate for their age. Or maybe you see them constantly worrying about things. What’s going to happen. You know things that they can’t control or constantly thinking about. They might talk about their minds racing or they just might have problems making friends at school. They might talk about maybe getting bullied or maybe they just don’t feel connected to other people. These sound like common things but if they are going on for a certain span of time then you’re looking at it might be bigger than the situation.You know an analogy I heard once that I think is great is like if you have a cold right, and you’re home and you take medication over the counter or use cough drops and you’re resting, and after a while, it’s still not working - you go to the doctor. So it’s kind of the same thing. You know if a child is struggling with depression or struggling with anxiety or it doesn’t seem to pass at that point it would probably be a good idea to reach out and get some help.

So would that be then the ultimate advice at this point when parents start seeing this? Because you don’t want the parents to freak out. You do have some kind of action to intervene so would that be what you tell them other than having those open conversations to contact a professional.

Yes, absolutely, I agree. Meridian is there for you, we have our mobile response team. We have our crisis line, we have plenty of child therapists, and we even have in-home services with our CMHC team so we’re there for you in any aspect that you can think of we can be there.

And what’s awesome about your crisis line is 24/7?

That is correct.

Alright and with all of this what’s so awesome with Meridian is how long has meridian been here in north-central Florida or just been around?

Wow, we are celebrating 50 years this year. It’s amazing! The opportunities we had. We’ve has been able to serve our communities and to really be for the families who need us. Not just children but adults alike. We are there for you for 50 years, it’s an amazing thing.

Congratulations. And Amy please tell everyone, your questions, and concerns, and what should they do to contact Meridian?

Call our access center at 352-374-5600 and feel free to schedule an appointment and we will be there for you.

Amy thank you so much for coming in to talk about this.

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