The statistics are staggering when it comes to mental health issues among children who experience the world from the seat of foster care. The relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, phobias, drug/alcohol dependence and even eating disorders and the affect they have on children within the foster care community will leave you wondering what can be done to help. National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on May 10, 2018 will highlight the issues to be addressed for the sake of these little lives.
Raising support and awareness provides a deeper understanding of children’s mental health and the critical necessity for their healthy growth. The theme for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2018 is “Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma.” For a child who is in the foster care system or has been adopted through foster care, the likelihood of having at some point experienced trauma is much higher than a child in the general population. In a Foster Care Alumni Study, Assessing the Effects of Foster Care: Mental Health Outcomes from the Casey National Alumni Study, they found that of adults who had experienced foster care, 21.5 percent suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder compared to 4.5 percent of adults in the general population. Foster children suffered more often from other mental health issues as well. When children are exposed to threatening incidents that are detrimental to their physical or emotional security, trauma is likely to follow. The idea to draw others in on this issue and spread understanding for these children and what they face is a cause to cling to.
Suffering trauma as a child can negatively affect their development into adulthood. Whether children endure a lack of proper physical maturity, struggles with school work, abnormal behaviors, or emotional calamities, the impact of a trauma on their life is long-lasting. So, as a part of the foster care and adoption community, what can we do to help raise awareness of the importance of children’s mental health?
Ensure the responsibility of a caretaker to be aware of signs for mental health struggles. Whether you are caring for a foster/adoptive child or know someone that is, be an advocate for the caretakers to receive the training and information they need to recognize any issues a child may begin having as a result of a trauma they may have experienced.
Find someone who has resources to offer assistance to families regarding mental health challenges facing children, especially in foster care or adoptive homes. These children can many times have specific traumas related to their situations.
Know the Laws in Your State
Each state addresses mental health and children differently. Know what your state advocates for along the lines of offering support to the families in the middle of this fight. If legislation needs to be changed, be a helping hand or voice in the stand for what is right.
Get Involved in School’s Intervention
If you have a child who may suffer from the effects of a mental instability, especially as a result of a trauma, be a part of early detection and intervention in your child’s school. Become a team with the personnel in the school who will assist in identifying your child’s needs and how to address them. Putting more heads together to see the bigger picture will not only offer a better solution, but it will provide a larger net of support for the child.
It is imperative that we address these issues of children’s mental health and the ways to better our understanding and reactions to it. For the sake of the child and the health of those in the family, early detection and provision for his/her needs can make a world of difference.