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Heartland Behavioral Health Services- Summer Mental Health Pt. 1- May 27, 2014

Alyson Harder discusses the physical and psychological impact summer can have on children and adolescents.
NOW THAT WE HAVE CELEBRATED MEMORIAL DAY WE HAVE OFFICIALLY KICKED OFF THE SUMMER SEASON. SUMMERTIME IS TYPICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH FREEDOM FROM SCHOOL, LOTS OF FREE TIME AND EXCITEMENT. HOWEVER, THE EXCITEMENT OF SUMMER CAN QUICKLY WEAR OFF AND IT THEN BECOMES A TIME WHEN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS BEGIN TO STRUGGLE WITH BOREDOM AND RESTLESSNESS. THIS TIME OF YEAR CAN BE MORE DIFFICULT FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIFIC MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. IN THIS SEGMENT WE WILL DISCUSS THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACTS ON CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS.


BEHAVIORS AND SYMPTOMS TO BE AWARE OF:

· INCREASE IN DEPRESSION: IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS, DEPRESSION IS NOT ALWAYS CHARACTERIZED BY SADNESS, BUT INSTEAD BY IRRITABILITY, BOREDOM, OR AN INABILITY TO EXPERIENCE PLEASURE.

· FOR SOME ADOLESCENTS THEY ARE ACCUSTOMED TO THE SOCIAL SCENE AT SCHOOL AND ALL THE SCHOOL ACTIVITIES, IN THE SUMMER THEY CAN OFTEN BE SEPARATED FROM THAT-CREATING AN INCREASE IN LONELINESS AND DEPRESSION.

· SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER-A "REVERSE SAD" THAT IS IMPACTED BY HEAT AND HUMIDITY. ESPECIALLY BEING MINDFUL OF CHILDREN WHO TAKE MEDICATIONS-THE HEAT AND SUN CAN HAVE VERY DAMAGING EFFECTS ON MOOD AND HEALTH.

· INCREASE IN AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS AND BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS. OFTEN TIMES CHILDREN TAKE A "MEDICATION HOLIDAY" FROM MEDICATIONS THAT ASSIST WITH BEHAVIORS AND ATTENTION DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR. WITHOUT A LOT OF STRUCTURE AND ATTENTION, THESE CHILDREN WILL STRUGGLE WITH MANAGING THEMSELVES.

· RISE IN SUBSTANCE USE AND DELINQUENT BEHAVIORS-KIDS ARE OUT AT PARTIES AND GET-TOGETHERS CREATING MORE EXPOSURE TO AT-RISK ACTIVITIES

· OBESITY-WEIGHT GAIN: LACK OF ACTIVITY, OVEREATING, EATING "COMFORT FOODS"

· ANXIETY DISORDERS CAN WORSEN AS THERE IS A REDUCTION IN STRUCTURE IN THE SUMMER MONTHS WHICH PRODUCES MORE ANXIETY.

· A LACK OF STIMULATION OF THE MIND AND THE ABSENCE OF THE STRUCTURE THAT SCHOOL PROVIDES CAN REINFORCE A DEPRESSED MOOD.

· KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR AN INCREASE IN PHYSICAL ILLNESS: MENTAL HEALTH HAS A DIRECT LINK TO PHYSICAL HEALTH

· INCREASE IN SIBLING CONFLICT-SIBLINGS HAVE MORE HOURS OF DIRECT CONTACT IN THE SUMMER.
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