Today’s NY Times article on the lack of oversight in New York’s mental health facilities for youth mirrors the rest of the nation.

2 Important truths; most of the youth in the juvenile justice system have come through child protection services, & a large percentage of these youth suffer from mental health issues.

Children don’t become involved in child protection systems unless they have suffered extended exposure to violence and deprivation in their birth homes.

The World Health Organizations definition of Torture is; Extended Exposure to Violence and Deprivation – Trauma.

New York is now spending about $250,000 per year / per youth in their juvenile justice system.

In my experience as a guardian ad-Litem in MN I have watched really terrible things happen to very troubled children under the direction of people and programs that were supposed to be “helping” the child.

One young boy walked home many miles without a coat, on a sub zero MN night (with no home to go to) from a juvenile facility after being severely abused.

While it would be easy to blame the people in the institutions, it is really the fault of poor public policy, resulting from lack of understanding of underlying issues.

Mental health is all about functioning within our communities. Bear that in mind as you read the New York Times article and the following KARA pieces.

My note on the following; The amount of psychotropic medications being proscribed to this population is enormous in relation to the the therapy that is needed but not available.

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For Detained Youths, No Mental Health Overseer
By JULIE BOSMAN New York Times

Published: February 10, 2010

Other Invisible Children mental health articles;

A Grim Truth About Big Pharma

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  1. You are absolutely right and as a social worker I can state that everything in this article is true. What is truly devestating is the psychotropic drugs doled out like candy to children in foster care, especially those in group homes. There are so few psychiatrists with a specialty in working with children in this country. Those psychiatrists who choose to work with children listen to the caretakers – non-professionals who give their opinions on the child’s behavior. They hear all the complaints from these laymen on how the child is doing in school, home, and before and after visits. This faux curiousity is in a 15 min time span, held monthly. By the time the social worker has a chance to follow and ask questions (if they psych will return your call) their attitude is often non-chalant, noting that they will see the child again in a month at their next meds review. Meanwhile the child stays on the meds for that month whether they are appropriate or not.

    I had a child who’s case was so convoluted that the child finally took matters into their own hands. After years of trying to figure out a dx, tx for them and everyone going in circles, the child was sent to juvenile hall for a situation. In there, they did not dole out the drugs as they so often neglect to do. The child realized they felt the same w/ or w/o drugs and opted to continue not taking them. I allowed this because the child’s logic made sense. They were in a very high level group home anyway. For the first time in my four years of working with the child, we were able to have a normal conversation where the child actually allowed for others in the world other than themself. I saw a “nutty” hopeless case turn into a human being. It was a beautiful experience full of smiles, laughter, and deep insight into the world around them. This also had to do with the child growing up, having been through so much that they did learn a bit about life and survival.

    That is not going to be the answer for every kid, especially with identifiable mental illness. I could tell you hundreds of stories. The other reason for why meds are often pushed is that the child refuses to enter therapy – sometimes there are just not enough really good therapists who understand foster children. They get the non-licensed just graduated professionals who use psych lingo “I hear what you are saying,” and who want to practice the theory they feel most comforted by and the kids get sick of that. Sometimes meds can be like drugs off the street. It makes them feel high, or it mellows them out. They often would rather go that direction than have to sit in yet another office and listening to super-fab-psycho student ask the same questions one more time.

  2. “Children don’t become involved in child protection systems unless they have suffered extended exposure to violence and deprivation in their birth homes.” You simply don’t know what you are talking about. This is an outrageous lie and it’s people like you who are destroying innocent lives with your ignorance. Shame on you.

  3. I’m not sure what the prior comment was about since there’s very little context to it. But I know how I feel about the way children are handled.

    The one ingredient that government agencies never seem to have is love. Most of these people are well meaning, I suppose. But some real attention and love would go a very long way.

    Dealing with humans is not like ordinary inventory, like furniture. Children thrive when their emotional needs are met. I think it’s cultural to ignore those needs. Physical ones are met, but the origin of any disease is mental/emotional. Modern societies only want to deal with physical needs, what they can see. But we need to deal with how a person feels and to help them deal with those emotions constructively.

    That would prevent a lot of problems later on. But to raise a human being into a decent law abiding one requires a lot of care and attention, as well as discipline.

    In addition, modern medicine makes things difficult because they don’t recognize mental illness. Again, it’s about not believing unless they see it, right?

    People are needlessly suffering. Are you open to a different paradigm which can offer solutions and solve problems? It takes too long or never to solve chronic problems in modern medicine.

    They lead you to believe that nothing can be done to help you, but in fact, there’s a lot of options out there, if you seek and wonder about the possibilities. Then you start taking control of your own situation instead of letting them tell you. Too many suffering people out there. I can’t stand by and allow hopelessness to prevail. No way!

  4. Yes, it’s a sad truth that so many young people, who really need mental health care, end up being incarcerated. One of the greatest deficits in mental health care is that the law requires that a person must “be dangerous to themselves or others” in order to receive treatment – and then the treatment choices are horrible and ineffective. Parents desperately trying to get help for their kids are met with endless obstacles and dead ends.

    I strongly suggest that everyone watches “Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness”and then shares it with others. This is a Fred Friendly Seminar. Panelists include Elyn Saks, author of “The Center Will Not Hold” – a woman who has struggled with schizophrenia since college, parents of children with mental illness, lawyers specializing in mental health law, and Dr. Eric Kandel, a neuroscientist and Nobel Prize winner. Go to Fred Friendly presents two hypothetical but all too typical cases of two young people with mental illness and we hear the panel debate over how to get treatment for these youngsters. What’s revealed is how completely dysfunctional the mental healthcare system is due to lack of understanding, social stigma and antiquated rules and methods. A MUST SEE for all who care!!!

    Evelyn Laurenzi
    Mental Health Consumer and Advocate

  5. My point is that most children taken from their families are not abused or neglected but come from poor or low-income families who cannot afford a good legal defense. Those who work within the child abuse industry will swear up and down that they are doing the right thing. Only the families and children know the truth and are defenseless against this mighty machine we know as child protective services. It has to stop. Children are not safe in state custody. It’s a total gamble and sometimes results in the abuse and murder of innocents. It’s human rights abuse and the popular thought is to just let it keep happening? Those who work w/in the industry seem to be deemed more important than those they are supposed to be helping. It’s beyond comprehension what families must go through once they are w/in the system even to the point of having to witness their children being abused and murdered by criminal caregivers. Then there is the drugging of these children, the experimenting on them … I could go on but you will simply have to do your own research to truly understand.

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