Band-Aiding The Mental Health of Our Children

About Paula Kay Glass

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior. She has been an educator for 22 years. She founded a private elementary school in 2003 and is now working through the Moore Public School District in Moore, Oklahoma as a special education teacher. Paula is also a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and has a children's book published. Paula has three grown children and resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You can contact her at glass foundations@sbcglobal.net or paulaglass@moorepublicschools.com.

I deal with the most difficult of kids. In all of my years of teaching, I have been called The Pied Piper for Children’s Behavior and a Child Whisperer.

But one thing that has never gotten easier is seeing seven, eight and nine-year-old children on medications that can eventually cause more harm than good.

The decline of mental health in our children has become an epidemic. Click To Tweet

I have young children that are on anti-anxiety medications, sedatives at night and more ADHD meds than I can care to research.

And I’m not saying that these medications aren’t needed for some kids. They definitely are. The problem I have is when I am handed a folder of an incoming child that has no psychological evaluation to back up the diagnosis. Pediatricians are doling out hardcore meds to young children like candy. When I contact a parent or guardian to ask if they have a current or even past, report from a psychiatrist the answer is usually no. They only have what they have given me: an office visit or two with the pediatrician who has flippantly gone off of what the parent or guardian has relayed as their observations with the child. It seems as if everyone is in it for a quick fix instead of an in-depth diagnosis.

I have kids coming into my classroom looking like they’ve just woken up from a really great frat party: every single morning.

This crushes me.

We almost all know adults who have or are continuing to deal with mental illness. Teacher mental illness is on the rise along with other high-risk career fields. But as adults, we seem to take things a bit more seriously when dealing with this type of diagnosis. We seek out multiple opinions, try multiple supplements and herbal remedies before we actually accept those hardcore medications. And I am not quite sure why this isn’t being done for our children as well. At least for the majority of our children.

I always feel like pediatricians are overstepping their boundaries when they feel free to prescribe psychiatric medications for our children without the aid of multiple assessments and evaluations to back up the symptoms. I feel so much anger when a psychiatric evaluation is not mandated before medications are prescribed.

Being the boisterous type that I am I will usually start a conversation with parents and try to help them develop their own idea of visiting with a psychiatrist, realizing that by law I cannot suggest or refer or even try to convince them that this would be a better route for their youngsters. It has to become their own idea, even though I want to DEMAND they get one.

And for the parents that are perfectly fine with a pediatrician taking this matter into his or her own hands completely burns me up.

So, I continue to advocate for better mental health consultation for our kids against a system (that I don’t believe in) with politicians who don’t understand the need for such. I feel like I will always be swimming upstream in roaring waters against adults who are neither educated nor compassionate about what they are doing to our children, ones who don’t see past the ends of their noses at what these medications are doing and the damage they will continue to do for little bodies.

I wish I knew the answer to this dilemma. I wish more people were educated about the short-term and especially the long-term side effects of these drugs. Or maybe they are educated, but more education lies in padding their pockets.

How do you feel about the rise in mental health band-aids for our children?

 

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About the Author:

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior. She has been an educator for 22 years. She founded a private elementary school in 2003 and is now working through the Moore Public School District in Moore, Oklahoma as a special education teacher. Paula is also a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and has a children's book published. Paula has three grown children and resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You can contact her at glass foundations@sbcglobal.net or paulaglass@moorepublicschools.com.

One Comment

  1. Sarah W. December 12, 2018 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    So scary to know that these bandaids can come without consulting a psychiatrist. As someone who deals with anxiety, and is on medication for it, I do, of course, still need coping tools to handle every-day stressors. Our kids are under tremendous pressure in school that simply cannot be medicated away. Addressing this will take huge efforts, from administrators, districts… I am currently a student teacher at a suburban school. Talking to my students, I asked who their school psychologist was. They said they didn’t have one! I know that there is a counseling office and perhaps a psychologist traveling throughout the greater district… I think we teachers need to take steps to make our students aware of what resources exist and demand that more funding goes to getting those resources in place.

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