Parents, Children and Psych Meds

According to PAL’s most recent report, parents rated psychotropic medications the most effective treatment available to their children. A number of people have been pretty surprised. “Really?” they asked. “Why would parents say that?” Treating children with psych meds for attention, mood, behavior or other mental health conditions generates lots of strong opinions, rhetoric and even judgement. Much of it is negative; it seems no one really expects parents to say anything positive.

But parenting is a practical endeavor. Parents want their children to be successful in school, be able to manage their emotions, have rewarding relationships with their peers and family and most of all, be pain free. Parents look for things that work and help their child do better whether it’s structure, a strict diet or medication. We try out different options but end up making choices based on results. Studies show that stimulants work for 70 to 80 percent of patients who need them and anti-depressants for 60 to 80 percent.

In an interview about her book We’ve Got Issues, Judith Warner says that we’ve been talking for the last 10 years or so as if children are routinely being over-diagnosed and overmedicated and lazy, competitive parents are basically acquiescing and pathologizing and drugging their kids in order to give them a competitive edge or in order to save themselves the time and trouble of real parenting. She goes on to say that this is not only false, but also really hurtful. It can actually keep kids who need mental health care from getting it when parents internalize these messages and worry about fitting those stereotypes. They can question themselves and their own instincts about whether something is going wrong with their kids. And this doesn’t benefit anyone.

There are often high expectation for our children. Schools often hold students up to rigorous attendance standards whether or not they have mental health needs. If a child is depressed, fearful or has just returned from a hospitalization, he or she is still expected to show up at school. They are also expected to focus, and behave well. These results are expected by schools, and everyone else, to occur in a very short amount of time. Long gone are the days when children had time to stay home and recover from an episode of depression.

Most parents want their children to stay home and receive care in their own community. We want our children to be part of their family and be able to have a healthy relationship with their siblings. Sometimes medication, hopefully in tandem with other treatment, is what makes this possible. And sometimes, it’s all we have.

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2 Responses to Parents, Children and Psych Meds

  1. Meri says:

    Time and time again as a parent you wonder- is it the way I am saying it? Did they not hear my concern, or do they know what I mentioned- I have tried??
    More and more parents are telling us, and providers calling us to say ” why does the school keep pushing and asking for meds?”.
    One mom just shared- the principal said to the parent in a Team-“The behavior is all you! But people like you cause kids to have to take meds?”

    I would like to know for the people that hurt, scare and abuse the parents : How are they TAUGHT and made sure to change what they say ?

    Or the provider that says to the parent ” Don’t shop around for things- your not at the mall”. Related to the family saddened that their child needs more than they can offer.

    When people support families, children and the siblings and even simply recognize the road map is complicated, a family is saved of feeling like a failure.

    There is no MAPQUEST or google to find and feel like a great parent when you have a kid like ours-

  2. Deborah Jean Parsons says:

    Well said!