Stories about: suicide

Ask the Mediatrician: Should I let my child watch ’13 Reasons Why’?

Boston Children's experts weigh in on whether or not teens should watch 13 Reasons Why.

My daughter is 13. Her friends in middle school have recently become obsessed with the Netflix show, “13 Reasons Why.” I haven’t read the book or watched the show, but have been seeing a few news articles that worry me that the show may be dangerous for kids to watch graphic depictions of suicide, bullying and forced sex. My daughter feels that it is only “drama” (in the teen use of the word), and she’s been feeling left out of the conversation with her friends. Is it ok for me to let her watch it? ~ Just One Reason Why Not, USA

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Millions of children have mental health disorders while treatment budgets shrink

When feeling stressed out by the hectic pace of modern life, it’s easy to get wistful for the carefree days of youth—when it seemed the only thing we had to worry about was getting along with the other kids in the neighborhood.

But according to a first-of-its-kind report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on childhood mental health, those days are gone or may never even have existed for a huge portion of America’s children.

Analyzing data collected over the past six years, the report shows that millions of kids—as many as one in five—are currently living with some form of mental health disorder. Attention deficit disorder is the most prevalent condition reported, affecting more than 4 million kids nationwide, but other behavioral issues such as anxiety and depression also were heavily documented, affecting 2.2 and 1.8 million children respectively.

While it’s unclear whether or not the numbers in the report mean that these conditions are really more common in kids today, or if parents, clinicians and teachers are just getting better at identifying them, the bottom line is clear: the issue of mental health disorders in American children is too big to ignore.

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Season of pride

By S. Bryn Austin, ScD, director of Fellowship Research Training in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital

This past Saturday was Boston’s 42nd annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride parade. As I stood among the jubilant throngs, cheering on the joyfully endless stream of colorful marchers, cyclists, roller skaters and floats, I was struck by how much we have to be proud of here in Massachusetts. And I mean all of us, not just the LGBT community.

Boston Children's Hospital's presence at this year's LGBT Pride parade

In 2004, Massachusetts was the first state to legally recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry. Twenty years ago, we were the first state to establish—by executive order from then-Governor William Weld—Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA), which are vital school-based support groups for teens. Across the state, we have many outstanding community-based organizations providing valuable resources for LGBT youth. And right here at Boston Children’s Hospital, we’re a national leader in health care and research for LGBT youth.

Every milestone achieved on the path toward equality and inclusion is a direct result of the compassion and dedication of our whole community working together, gay and straight, transgender and nontransgender. We can all share in the season of pride.

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Children’s Mental Health Campaign

David DeMaso, MD

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is May 6 though 12. In honor of the occasion David R. DeMaso, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, addresses the work of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign in Massachusetts.

What is the state of children’s mental health in the Commonwealth?

The good news is that we’ve come a long way. Massachusetts is a national leader in children’s mental health. Since 2006, when Boston Children’s and Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) released a joint report on children’s mental health, children are now more likely to receive timely care, delivered in the right setting, than six years ago. However, the system continues to be fragmented, which creates barriers to care. We still need to take important steps to expand access to effective, high quality and well-coordinated care for all children with mental health needs.

What is the Children’s Mental Health Campaign? What have been the most significant achievements of the Campaign to date?

Launched by Boston Children’s and the MSPCC, the Campaign also includes the following founding partners –Health Care for All, Health Law Advocates and the Parent Advocacy League. Since 2006 it has grown into a diverse coalition of more than 140 organizations with expertise in mental health, healthcare, law, child welfare, family advocacy and policy—all working together to advocate for systemic change of the children’s health care system.

Through the Campaign’s efforts, the landscape for children’s mental health in the Commonwealth has changed significantly. Three landmark laws have been enacted: the Children’s Mental Health Omnibus law of 2008, the Mental Health Parity reform law of 2008 and the Autism law of 2010.

These laws have improved access to care, spurned early identification of children with mental health needs, highlighted the importance of increasing schools’ capacity to address the mental health needs of students, expanded insurance coverage for children in need of mental healthcare services and reduced by more than 60 percent the number of kids “stuck” in inappropriate care settings.

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