Thursday, October 18, 2012

Medicating Disadvantaged Children Is Not The Only Answer

Beth Musgrave, reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, has brought attention to a newly released study out of the University of Kentucky.  The UK Center for Business and Economic Research released its study about treatment of mental illness in disadvantaged, Medicaid-eligible minority children. 

Researchers at the University of Kentucky have found that minority children who took medications to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression were three times that of the rate of white children in 2010.  According to the report, powerful antipsychotic drugs distributed to children on Medicaid in Kentucky jumped 270 percent from 2000 to 2010.  Minority children were prescribed larger amounts of antipsychotic drugs than other children on Medicaid in Kentucky from 2000 to 2010.  The study further indicated that there are variances in prescriptions for ADHD by counties, for instance, Henderson County children take medications to treat ADHD at a rate 11 times higher than children in Leslie County.

Ms. Musgrave quoted both Dr. Owen Nichols (President/CEO of NorthKey Community Care, a community mental health center in Northern Kentucky) and Dr. Paul Glaser (pediatrician and child and adult psychiatrist) in response to this report as saying that there are too few mental health professionals in Kentucky and too few child psychiatrists.  Dr. Nichols argued that the vast majority of powerful antipsychotic medications are prescribed to children by pediatricians or family care doctors, not psychiatrists. He stated that many diagnoses such as anxiety disorder are sometimes better treated through behavioral intervention rather than medication. He stated that, in fact, medication can make some mental health disorders more difficult to treat.

As I read the report, I thought of some parents that I know whose children are being “labeled” and bullied because of mental illness.  I particularly agree with Dr. Nichols’ statement that sometimes there must be behavioral intervention instead of just writing a prescription for a child.  The treatment for mental illness of minority must continue to be addressed at all levels. 

Parents, I believe, must take the key role in their children’s lives. That means, they must pay more attention to their children’s environment and behavior. Disadvantaged minority parents must get self-educated, read literature, ask questions, etc. from Medicaid, the medical providers, and they must get some coaching and counseling from guidance counselors at their children’s schools.  Most importantly, I believe parents must begin to speak life over their children, they must daily pray for and over their children.  We know education is the key to empowerment, but I believe prayer is more powerful.   What is the effect of prayer, persistent prayer, over a child’s life?  Try it.

In Christ's love,
Therese from Belize

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