We Have Physicals; Why Not Mentals?

Note: My vision of this blog is to be a resource for ways to give children positive messages to raise a emotionally healthy child.  Once 2016 begins, I intend to make my own 153Promise to make 153 blog entries on ways to “kiss” your child so they wind up with “On Million Kisses” by the time they turn 18.  Until then, I’m throwing out a bunch of content that’s been on my mind for quite some time.  This is one of those posts…

Every parent knows the “joys” of the yearly physical checkup at the pediatrician.  It’s usually scheduled at a sick visit when you child needs antibiotics for that horrible cough or ear ache.  The very nice physicians’ assistant (PA) helpfully suggests, “Would you like to schedule your yearly well visit at this time?”  This is usually in February and the calendar is booked well into July.  Still, you pick a random date towards the end of the summer and pray you don’t forget it.  Thankfully, the offices sends you a reminder call 48 hours in advance so you can cancel the plans you made in the meantime.

Your child gets weighed and measured.  Poked and prodded.  Not unlike picking the perfect melon for a picnic.  98.6?  Check.  Still ten fingers and toes?  Check.  Pooping?  Check.

All of this is important, just to make sure everything’s looking normal.  We trust the doctor to pick up anything unusual, and the doctor trusts us to divulge any concerns we may have.  It’s a system that’s been in place for ages.

Why not for mental health?

You may say that primary care physicians (PCPs) are trained for such screenings, but their training is limited.  Kind of like a plumber fixing your leaky sink and noting that the wiring may — or may not — be grounded right in your kitchen outlets.  You need to call an electrician to get a more educated opinion.

My wish is that EVERY child in the U. S. gets a yearly screening for any issues dealing with mental health.  It should be done by a highly trained, highly astute therapist who knows how to spot the markers for things like anxiety, depression, mood disorders…  There should be a very detailed pre-visit form to fill out.  Depending upon the age of the child, they should be part of that process, similar to the courts considering the child’s opinion in custody hearings.

A questionnaire with the Strongly Agree; Agree; Neutral; Disagree; Strongly Disagree should be filled out by both the caregiver and the child.  Part of HIPA, there should be parts of the form that can be voluntarily filled out by a PA without the parent present if the child needs help with the form and the parent gives consent in order to ensure that the child is forthcoming with the answers.

Questions like:

  • I am happy at school
  • I feel supported at home
  • I feel in control of my life
  • I go to sleep without fear
  • I make healthy choices about my body
  • My friendships add to my enjoyment of life
  • There is an adult I trust if I have problems
  • I do not feel like I am in danger in any way

Or for the more concerning:

  • My life feels out of control sometimes
  • I have thoughts of not wanting to be here anymore
  • There are some fears I can’t get out of my head
  • I fear some people in my life
  • I don’t enjoy activities I used to like
  • People don’t notice my problems

Even very young children could point to emojis or pick pictures to color to get an idea of how they view the world and their place in it.

I firmly believe that if we as a nation start focusing our attention on these types of issues at a very early age, we could see a huge turn around in how we treat children with regarding mental health issues.

If a child’s responses start showing a cause for concern, early interventions can be done.  Things as simple as recommending a support group for both the parents and child…  Recommending certain books or resources for the family… even a few intensive sessions with a therapist to teach coping mechanisms… for the entire family.

Will this cost money upfront?  Perhaps.  But imagine how much money would be saved by having a whole generation of more well adjusted people walking around.  Imagine crime rates going down.  Addiction being reduced.  Fewer suicides or mass shootings.

The real tragedy that occurs in horrible media events is when people are interviewed and say, “Yeah… there were some red flags.”

It’s my hope that 153Promise takes off and becomes a platform for sweeping mental health reform for children.

That’s my mission. Some may think I’m crazy, and I need to get my head examined.






When We Fail…

(Note: I am not finished with this post, but I wanted to push it out.  Please check back later on in the week for more content.)

Yes, this is a site that wants to focus on showing love and affection to our children.  I can practically smell the chocolate chip cookies and am blinded by all the shiny glitter.  But sometimes, it’s necessary to go a little Dark…

Yes, it’s the holiday season and all thoughts are on celebrating and happy times.  However, sometimes heightened emotions with all those expectations of recreating a Norman Rockwell moment can create a lot of pressure and ultimately backfire.  Especially if there’s been a little dipping into the giant punchbowl of “Holiday Cheer.”

So while everybody’s hyper-focused on trimming the tree, wrapping presents and forcing everybody to wear matching outfits for their yearly festive family photo that gets uploaded onto their Facebook page, please allow me to throw a little reality into the mix.

I thought it important to actually run down a list of  dysfunctional parenting techniques and their consequences.  Perhaps some of them may sound familiar because you grew up in this situation.  If so, then you may already have some insight and be making adjustments so you don’t repeat the cycle.  The also may strike a chord because you realize your child is already displaying certain behaviors listed below; in that case, you can look deep into yourself or any other authority figure in their lives to identify the source and then make adjustments accordingly.

We’re all human and flawed.  This list is not to name, blame, and shame.  It is to serve as a resource toward kinder, more loving choices.  Please take it in that spirit.

Also, I feel the need to make a disclaimer: I am NOT a licensed therapist.  My knowledge comes from years of teaching, extensive personal research from a variety of reliable sources, and my own life.  They are in my own words, from my own perspective.  I also cannot possibly list where I got my information, as it is common knowledge within the psychiatric community.  For more information, I suggest you consult the DSM5.org website.  Also realize that there are no physical tests for any psychological/psychiatric disorders- the only criteria is that enough boxes are checked in a list of symptoms.  This ambiguity causes much controversy, as one therapist may diagnose a patient with one disorder and another therapist may assess in a very different way.  Additionally, some people will want to label typical “normal” behavior as a disorder, while others may normalize, or downplay, toxic behaviors.  There is also a lot of “bleeding” from one disorder to another due to the similarity of conditions, either causes or effects.  Comorbidity, or multiple disorders, may also occur.  Furthermore, the DSM is constantly changing, expanding, or collapsing their conditions (presumably for insurance coding purposes or in response to political lobbying or legislative changes).  Finally, it is important to realize that there are some emotional/mental disorders that are physical (chemical) in nature not caused by any learned patterns and may require more extensive treatment.

Additionally, some patients seek out medication, while others only seek behavior modification or both.  This post is not meant to be a diagnostic tool.  Rather, it is meant to create awareness and mindfulness regarding healthy relationship decisions in the future to foster an affectionate environment, enabling children to thrive.

The following list is a general list of maladaptations that may be the result of dysfunctional parenting, in alphabetical order.  Check back from time to time, as I will update as I think of more and expand my descriptions.

Addictions (Compulsions)


*Attachment Disorder

*Borderline Personality (BPD) and its variations


*Dependent Personality Disorder


****Dissociative Personality Disorder, fka, Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)

Eating Disorders (Anorexia/Bulimia)

*Histrionic Personality

Love Avoidance

*Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

***Not Otherwise Specified (NOD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

**Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

*Reactive Personality Disorder

You may want to revisit this post from time to time as a gentle barometer to see if the behaviors of either you or people around you seem to be aligned with any of the above patterns.  If so (or even the need to re-read this list), you may want to seek out some professional support.

So when you find yourself getting caught up with the pressures of life — be it something like the holidays or just daily routine business — keep the 153Promise to yourself and your loved ones to be mindful and aware of the fact that everything you do has a ripple effect of reactions, and act only from a position of L.O.V.E.