Today is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, and it is a reminder that what you believe really matters. Especially in a network culture where all of the stresses of life are aimed at families and children like a fire hose disturbing the peace and creating perfect circumstances for mental health disorders.
Sharon Behrens, Chair of the Placer County Mental Health Alcohol Drug Board, knows all too well the importance of mental health for children, and that our human response to disease is the most critical factor for wellness. “Kids today can easily believe that their life is ruined if they make a mistake, act on a poor decision with serious consequences, such as drug or alcohol abuse, or if something traumatic happens,” Behrens said. “Children need to understand they are not the mistakes they make, and there is hope especially when something horrific happens to them.”
Behrens speaks with genuine authority.
She and her husband Bob adopted five children who are now grown. The youngest is Mia (24 years old), who came to them as an infant who had been brutally, sexually, and ritualistically tortured by her own parents. Her baby sister of twelve weeks was killed in front of her. (See CBS video of Mia’s story below).
Mia’s recovery from the horrific trauma she endured as an infant is a testament to the power of God’s love when we focus on the hope for what we cannot see. As the CBS video of Mia’s story illustrates, what most people saw was a “throw away child” who was beyond help. “Too often our response is to turn to professionals who may not have the answers for your child,” Behrens said. “Before a child can choose a path of wellness, they have to feel secure. Children have the right to be heard, to not feel powerless especially after trauma.”
Behrens stressed the importance of finding professionals who are willing to learn something and collaborate to pursue answers that fit your child. “Now I am all for appropriate use of medication,” she said. “Nevertheless we never medicated Mia for her condition.” According to Behrens the initial diagnoses of schizophrenia and such did not resonate as truth for her condition. “Eventually we found phenomenal physicians and experts who were able to engage Mia in healing, and help our family become a part of the healing process for her,” she said.
In this regard, technology, like medication, should be used appropriately in order to ensure that we stay connected in relationships with healthy and secure emotional bonds. Behrens wants parents to know that there cannot be privacy for minor children because it is a matter of safety and security. So it is important that children feel safe to not keep secrets from parents. “While the damage that can be done in a nanosecond with texting and social media is significant, children are truly plastic in that what you see now is not what has to define them in the future,” Behrens said. “They have a great ability to change, assimilate and incorporate new information.”
For parents struggling with children displaying severe behavior disorders, Placer County has established a Crisis Resolution Center to help children reconnect and bond in ways that lead to healing and wellness.
- Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Network Culture
- A book about our genuine authority to rise above adversity in the digital age
- Fresh Start – Family culture that strengthens family bonds
- Crisis Resolution Center – Placer County
- Placer County Mental Health Alcohol Drug Board
- Therapeutic Solutions 360
- Coalition for Placer Youth