How Do We Process the Connecticut Tragedy? by Janet Frain
12/18/2012 3:55 PM
he needed help
. So how can youth understand that they need help? What has to happen? For one thing, open, honest and regular communication with family. Parents are busy with work, home and activities. We sign our kids up for more teams, lessons and activities than in the past. There’s rarely a moment to delve into their inner most thoughts. So with few intimate conversations and their growing independence as they develop into teens, you begin to know less and less about what they’re really thinking and feeling. We need to stop this growing gap and prioritize emotional and mental health just as we do physical health. Give your kids the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts and really
listen. Don’t discount their feelings. In some cases, a parent may not feel equipped to handle his or her child’s mental health. Then it’s time for a professional counselor. Bringing in a professional is not a sign of weakness on the part of the parent. On the contrary, the parent is taking responsible action and also obtaining the help that their child needs.
In St. Louis County, we are incredibly fortunate to have the Children’s Service Fund, an initiative that passed in 2008 allotting ¼ cent sales tax for children’s mental health. These funds are then disbursed to approved providers who offer mental health and substance abuse services to youth under the age of 20 who reside in St. Louis County. Over 50 agencies in the metropolitan area receive this funding. Our agency, Provident, is able to offer unlimited FREE counseling to youth, ages 2 – 19 and their families, thanks to this funding. For many families, the cost of obtaining therapy would be prohibitive, particularly since insurance often only covers a specific number of sessions.
Provident maintains seven counseling offices: Central City, 2650 Olive, St. Louis, MO 63103; South City, 6555 Chippewa, Ste. 150, St. Louis, MO 63109; West County, 12755 Olive, Ste. 115, Creve Coeur, MO 63141; North County, 409 S. Florissant Rd, Ferguson, MO 63135; Arnold, 3675 W. Outer Road, Arnold, MO 63010; Wildwood, 2634 Highway 109, Ste. E, Wildwood, MO 63040; and Fairview Heights, 141 Market Place Drive, Ste. 206, Fairview Heights, IL 62208. To schedule an appointment, individuals simply call 314.533.8200.
In addition to our counseling, Provident also offers a 24/7 crisis intervention hotline. Call 314.647.HELP (4357) or 1.800.273.TALK (8255).
Let’s not wait for tragedy to strike again. We need to show our children that mental health is a priority; offer them safe and frequent opportunities to express themselves; and pursue appropriate professional resources when the need arises. We need to be their beacon for mental health.