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Utah mom: Young kids need to learn about mental health

Students typically don’t learn about mental health until middle or high school — but by then, some parents say, teasing or ostracism have already begun.



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Taylor’s older brother, Parker, 13, said knowing that Taylor has bipolar disorder makes it easier to be nice to him. His brother can become easily angry or sad. "It’s really not his fault," he said. "I try to be nice to him whenever possible. Sometimes it’s hard, but I try."

‘They’re good kids’ » Green also organized the week to help other children who may be struggling and to help parents know what to look for. National statistics show 1 in 5 children will be diagnosed with a mental illness by the age of 18. Green knows of fellow parents who suspected their children had problems, but didn’t know where to turn or whether they should discuss the problems with teachers.

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Is there an issue related to children and mental health you’d like us to explore? Send your ideas to Heather May at hmay@sltrib.com.

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For information about National Alliance on Mental Illness in Utah, visit www.namiut.org

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Gayle Hadfield attended the parent meeting because her 8-year-old has ADHD, and his biological mother has bipolar disorder, so she knows it’s a possibility for him. She said the event helped her find a support group for ADHD. And she liked the message the school was sending by hosting the events.

"We need to teach our young children. It’s part of the world we live in," she said.

Sixth-grade teacher Diane Reese also applauded the week’s emphasis. "There’s a lot of kids who actually suffer from these, especially anxiety, ADHD. It’s good to let the whole school know they’re still normal. They’re good kids."

She said she shared with her students that she had anxiety. It helps them see they’re not alone — and that they can succeed, she said.

In an interview before the assembly, Taylor said he hoped the week would lead teachers to stop other kids from teasing him. And that classmates would treat him and others with mental illnesses better.

"They will learn maybe they should have done the right thing and still played with them."

Kids and mental health


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Is there an issue related to children and mental health you’d like us to explore? Send your ideas to Heather May at hmay@sltrib.com.

To learn more

For information about National Alliance on Mental Illness in Utah, visit www.namiut.org/



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