Wednesday, March 28, 2012

class six: mental health

Last night was another foster resource parent training class.  The topic was mental health and was really interesting.  The speaker shared six of the most common mental disorders that we might see in foster children: 1) ADHD 2) Pediatric Bipolar Disorder 3) Dysthymia (a type of depression) 4) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 5) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 6) Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  I felt like I was sitting in Taylor Hall taking a psych class.  Although some of the mental disorders talked about can be caused by a traumatic/chaotic home life, there are others that aren't related to circumstances at all.  Half of the time was spent on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and I asked the most questions.  This very topic was brought to my attention a few days ago by a loved one and I was thankful for God's timing in providing helpful information to pass on.

One of the toughest parts about sitting in class with professionals who have dealt with the foster care system for some time is hearing the stories of patients.  There are some really messed up people out there.  Can you imagine using your child to help you break into homes?  Or killing a person in front of a child?  It is haunting how long mental problems can plague a person after witnessing or participating in a traumatic event.  Oh but for the grace of God!

Someone brought up the same news magazine program I saw several months ago when we were just starting this journey.  It was about how foster children tend to be over medicated.  It troubled me back then to think that I might have to give drugs to a child who maybe didn't really need them.  The news show supported the angle that the state just doesn't want to deal with any deep issues a foster child might have so they drug everyone in the system.  I am not sure that was completely accurate (thankfully).  There is some really hard stuff out there that kids go through.  It sounds like Medicaid does a "good" job getting kids the help that they need.  So much so that this professional said that some parents give up their children to be in foster care so they can get the mental health services that they need and are unable to afford on their own. Mental disorders can be hereditary.  So sometimes the issues that might cause/trigger a parent to have their children put into foster care in the first place might be passed down biologically.

A foster parent can be a huge help in documenting a child's mental health growth.  The presenter last night said even if a child is in therapy for three years that only equates to 150 hours of time in treatment.  Not much can be accomplished in a one hour session once a week.  Foster parents can be an important part of the team to help a child get the help they need.


amanda said...

It is sad the things that kids have to face and deal with at such a young age. You and Adam was going to be a wonderful blessing to some kids who need God's love!

Chelsea said...

I can attest, that with more than half of that list going on in the children in my home, just removing the children from the stress can make a large impact. Therapy does take a long time. Often times the child does not even realize that the home he/she came from is not "normal" and wonders why he/she is no longer living with the parent.

Prayer, modeling Jesus and showing love (yes, I am reading Kisses from Katie. You can have when I'm done) can also make a huge impact. A couple years of seeing a "normal" family, being honest with the stress of not ever seeing normal, and the jealousy of not having that in his/her parents is a difficult journey.

God will give you what you need in the time that you need it. Sometimes we are just there to turn over the soil, other times to plant the seed or water the seed and still, on a rare occasion, we get to see the harvest. God will use you and your family in a way that only He may see for now, but you will see in eternity.

Love you so much!