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Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Parents struggle to find mental health help for kids

By Shelley Grieshop
CELINA - Casandra Coldiron knew her 5-year-old son had mental health problems, but she struggled to find him help.
Weeks and months were lost waiting to see busy psychologists; paying for pricey services not covered by insurance was a financial burden. Still undiagnosed at age 13 - a tough time for many youths - he lost his father and brother.
"My son began getting into trouble with the police and became fascinated with fire," the Celina woman said.
In a twist of fate, it was intervention and counseling paid by the court that finally got him the help he needed, she said.
"It should never have had to come down to being in the legal system to achieve that," Coldiron said. "There are resources, but they're simply spread too thin."
The teen - who chewed his fingers until they bled, was violent, controlling and showed no empathy toward others - is now receiving treatment at a facility near Cincinnati. He has been diagnosed with multiple disorders including intermittent explosive disorder.
"As a parent, you see things a child does that others do not. You know when they need help, and it is the worst feeling in the world to not know where to seek that treatment or to be told you have to wait months or you don't have the right insurance," said Coldiron, who shares her story and swaps advice with others on a social media site.
Last week's brutal massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut left many people questioning if mental health services are adequate across the country. The shooter, Adam Lanza, had a history of mental illness from childhood that his mother - whom he killed just prior to the school rampage - dealt with for years.
A health assessment published this year in Auglaize County showed that 73 percent of residents were able to find help for their depression and anxiety issues. The study also showed that 20 percent of adults in the county rated their mental health as not good on four days or more the previous month.
  Private psychiatric serves are available in Mercer and Auglaize counties but only two state/county-supported agencies exist - Auglaize County We Care Center in St. Marys and Foundations Behavioral Health Services in Celina. The Ohio Department of Mental Health funds and monitors their programs through operating boards.
In 2012, the state mental health department served 124,021 children and 233,761 adults and provided inpatient care to 7,721 people in one of six regional psychiatric hospitals in the state, according to spokeswoman Trudy Sharp.
Shonda Ellis-Vogel of Fort Recovery believes there are adequate resources in Mercer County but not enough awareness.
"There's resources everywhere but people have to realize they have a problem before they will even think about utilizing them," she said. "And even then, most people are embarrassed and just don't reach out to get the help they need."
Ellis-Vogel, 33, said people need to step up to the plate if they see someone struggling with such issues.
"Don't just push it to the side and hope they'll get help on their own. Prevention is key and everyone needs to know it's OK to get a little help," she added.

Local mental health agencies:
• Auglaize County We Care Center, 720 Armstrong St. St. Marys, 419-394-7451
• Foundations Behavioral Health Services, 4761 state Route 29, Celina, 419-584-1000
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