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Childhood Mental Health Problems and Parental Embarrassment

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Following, are two cases that are conglomerates of many varied cases:

1. One mother insisted that her young son remain in regular classes despite the fact that he suffered from mental retardation. In the end, she complied and the child made a happy adjustment in special education.

2. A married couple came for counseling because of constant arguing. The therapist had a “hunch” that he husband had ADHD. He was referred for psychological testing and the hunch proved correct. Then, the patient revealed that he was diagnosed in elementary school but his parents refused any kind of treatment. Even at the present time, he feared telling his parents about the diagnosis even though he is an adult over thirty years old.

The results of research was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry that revealed the fact that parents commonly resist talking to their doctors and their children’s mental health problems because they feel embarrassed, fear being judged as incompetent parents, worry that their child will be stigmatized and that they will always carry a label of being mentally ill.

One of the issues that permeates the medical system is that MD’s are so busy that they lack time to really observe the child who is brought in for other health issues. Yet, it is a well established fact that most mental health problems for both children and adults show up in the doctor’s office. The shortness of time with the doctor causes reluctant parents for discussions with the pediatrician. Other parents view the doctor visits and medical only and, therefore, not a place to raise psychological and behavior problems. Of course, this is not true.

Among the problems that children experience are, ADHD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Anxiety Disorders among them, Separation Anxiety, Learning Disabilities, Autism, and others. Children tend to express these types of problems by acting our because they don’t know how to verbalize.

The fact is that children rely on their parents care for their needs and problems. While adults are usually able to be aware that they are having a problem, children are not. If parents will not talk about their behavioral problems, they will go undiagnosed and untreated. Ultimately, those problems will worsen

I always counselled the patients I worked with in psychotherapy to find another MD if they are unable to talk to their doctor. MD visits are not only medical. The doctor’s office is often the first place to get help. The physician can either treat the issue or refer to psychiatrists and psychologists. Today, young doctors are trained to listen and talk to their patients and take the time to offer advice and psychological help.

In my opinion, any doctor you cannot talk to or have a good relationship with is not the person you should continue seeing.

Your comments and questions are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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