A Guide to Credible Resources for Parent and Pediatric Professionals
As parents we are tasked with the lovely and challenging job of taking care of our children’s physical and mental health. We can do all the right things – feed them healthy snacks, provide plenty of opportunities for play and exercise, access educational experiences – but because of genetics, chemical imbalances, illness, injury, or being exposed to traumatic events outside of our control, our kids can struggle. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience mental health disorders each year, and 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14. Mental illness impacts all areas of our lives and
without the prompt treatment can be devastating. The first step to helping our loved ones improve their mental health is understanding their conditions. As a pediatric occupational therapist, often I am asked for recommendations on credible mental health resources and organizations. With Dr. Google readily available, we need to be aware of reputable sources for our families. Below are highlighted three well-established, trusted sources for parents and professionals to utilize for increased empathy and understanding. As Thomas Jefferson and Francis Bacon stated, “Knowledge is Power". As pediatric professionals, we need to empower our parents to help their children thrive.
National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI is the leading voice on mental health, being the largest grassroots mental health organization in the United States dedicated to improving the lives of those with mental illness. They started back in 1979 and have grown into an alliance of 600 local affiliates who work to raise awareness and provide support and education to those with mental illness. Their mission is to provide “advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.” Visiting their website, you will find a plethora of resources and information to access that include:
Information About Mental Illness. Extensive discussion on warning signs and symptoms, mental health conditions, common conditions associated with mental illness, treatment, and research. They have a section entitled, “Mental Health by the Numbers” that has wonderful infographics to download.
Family Member and Caregiver Resources. Topics of supporting your family member’s recovery, maintaining a healthy relationship, taking care of yourself, being prepared for a crisis, finding a missing loved one, calling 911 and talking with the police, and handling the arrest of a family member. Resources are available for teens and young adults to help a friend and manage a mental health condition in college. Veterans & active-duty members, frontline professionals and identity & cultural dimensions resources that target specific challenges faced by ethnic communities are also accessible.
Education and Support. Here you will find access to mental health education, support groups, the NAMI helpline, publications and reports, online discussion groups and finding your local NAMI organization. The Video Resource Library includes an array of videos to access on COVID-19, criminal justice, mental health conditions, NAMI conversations, personal stories, and the topic of silence over strength.
Advocacy. This section supports being an agent of change for mental health, especially at your state level since many mental health policy decisions happen there. There are resources available for each state, explanations of policy priorities, and the Crisis Intervention Team program to improve outcomes with first responders.
How to Get Involved with NAMI. NAMI supports and promotes mental health awareness and fundraising events across the country, including NAMIWalk events and hosting a national conference.
Understood is a non-profit that supports people who learn and think differently. They define learning and thinking differences on their website as “variations in how the brain processes information and can affect reading, writing, math, focus and following directions.” These differences include conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and dyscalculia, to name a few. With 1 out 5 Americans struggling with learning and thinking differences, they set out to support individuals and their families to improve understanding of these conditions and ways to help them. Their family, educator and young adult programs focus on providing accessible resources to ultimately disrupt systemic issues such as high school dropout rates, underemployment and the stigma surrounding disabilities. Through their Workplace Program launched in 2012, they help people with disabilities find meaningful employment and work with companies to create inclusive workplaces. Their website breaks down their extensive resources into the following categories: Families, Educators, Young Adults and Workplace.
Back to School. Information to support a smooth transition back to school
Learning and Thinking Differences. Extensive articles on signs and symptoms, types of differences, treatments and approaches, understanding your child’s challenges and personal stories.
School and Learning. Helpful tips on partnering with your child’s school, evaluations, special services, your child’s rights, choosing and starting school, learning at home, tutors and assistive technology.
Friends and Feelings. Articles discuss common challenges, empowering your child, managing feelings, social situations, and topics related to teens and tweens.
You and Your Family. Support to address managing everyday challenges, events and outings, siblings, your relationships, and taking care of yourself. Access to their podcast, “In It: A Podcast on Raising Kids Who Learn and Think Differently” is available here and can also be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher.
Understood Community. Additional community resources can be found here that address COVID-19 resources & support, school & services, and life at home.
Through Your Child’s Eyes. Wonderful, short video clips of children explaining reading, math, writing, attention, and organization challenges.
In each of the following sections, there are articles, videos, and free printables for educators to access:
Partnering with Families.
Connecting with Students.
Top of Mind. Information on the latest trends.
More Topics. Additional teaching strategies, collaborating with colleagues, classroom management, and “big ideas” that support universal design for learning, trauma informed teaching, structured literacy and flexible grouping.
For Young Adults
Short videos of young adults address a variety of topics in this section. There are also numerous articles on the following topics to access in this area:
Classroom Highs and Lows.
What am I good at?
Funnies and Memes.
Life is Hard.
In the News.
What ____ is Like
The D Word (Diagnosis)
For the Workplace
Access to articles in this section address the following topics:
Training and Business Solutions.
Disability Inclusion at Work.
Rights at Work.
For Employees and Job Seekers.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
NCTSN’s mission “is to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families, and communities throughout the United States.” They were originally created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act and are administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration with coordination by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. The organization has 117 affiliate centers and individuals who work in hospitals, universities, and community-based programs in 43 states and the District of Columbia. “To accomplish the NCTSN mission, grantees and Affiliates work to:
Provide clinical services
Develop and disseminate new interventions and resource materials
Offer education and training programs
Collaborate with established systems of care
Engage in data collection and evaluation
Inform public policy and awareness efforts.”
The resources available for families, caregivers, and professionals is vast. The following information can be found on their website:
What is Child Trauma?
NCTSN provides an overview of child trauma and dives into the various trauma types to highlight effects, screening and assessment, intervention, and NCTSN resources for each of these trauma types:
Disasters with specific information on earthquakes, extreme heat, flood, hurricane, landslide, COVID-19, tornado, tsunami, wildfire, windstorm, and winter storms.
Early Childhood Trauma
Intimate Partner Violence
Terrorism and Violence
Populations at Risk that include trauma and abuse, economic stress, military and veteran families, intellectual and developmental disabilities, homeless youth, and LGBTQ youth.
Treatments and Practices
Trauma Treatments. Facts sheets of various trauma treatments can be downloaded.
Screening and Assessment. Considerations for screening and types of tools, trauma focused mental health assessments tools and processes, and NCTSN Resources are available here.
Psychologist First Aid (PFA) and Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR). PFA and SPR are intervention strategies for survivors in the immediate aftermath of disasters or terrorism.
Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma (CCCT). CCCT is focused on raising the standard of education and training for care providers in the area of childhood traumatic stress across the nation.
Trauma-Informed Systems. Essential elements and NCTSN resources on child welfare, schools, justice, and health care can be found here.
Trauma-Informed Organizational Assessment. A tool created to help organizations assess their practices to identify, prioritize, implement, and sustain trauma-informed practices.
Introduction and NCTSN resources available on these topics:
Culture and Trauma.
Families and Trauma.
Secondary Traumatic Stress.
NCTSN provides information available in Spanish, online and in-person training on a variety of topics and promotes public awareness through national foster care month and children’s mental health awareness month.
We are fortunate to have access at our fingertips with a stroke of a button to help make the best decisions possible as parents and professionals. NAMI, Understood, and NCTSN are three trusted sources for the families we serve and for us as professionals. When we are empowered with knowledge and understanding, we can help to take away the stigma of mental illness and ensure successful outcomes with our children.