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Behavioral Health: Keeping Children and Adolescents Healthy

Thursday, September 03, 2009 - Danbury, CT

The majority of children and adolescents who struggle with behavioral health issues go on to lead healthy and happy lives as adults thanks to the use of safe and effective medications and therapeutic services.

That’s the message from Charles Herrick, MD, chair of psychiatry at Danbury Hospital, and the behavioral health experts at the hospital’s Children’s Health and Wellness Center at 79 Sand Pit Road in Danbury.

“Most of the cases we see involve kids who are experiencing a bump in the road and just need some help and support to get back on track. They are not as bad off as their parents perceive,” said Dr. Herrick. “At the other end of the spectrum, we can identify more serious problems that need to be addressed more aggressively.”

Children’s Health and Wellness Center

Pediatric psychiatry is among the many pediatric specialty services available at the Children’s Health and Wellness Center. The child-friendly facility brings pediatric subspecialists under one roof, making it more convenient for families in Connecticut and New York to access high-quality, specialized care. The Center includes pediatric specialists in psychiatry, endocrinology (diabetes), pulmonology (asthma), cardiology, genetics, gastroenterology and physical medicine/rehabilitation.

The facility consolidates Danbury Hospital’s pediatric psychiatry services at one location. Children and adolescents with mental, emotional and behavior problems have access to two child-adolescent psychiatrists and two licensed social workers. The staff provides a full range of services, including evaluations, medication management, individual and group therapy, and a family support group.

Enhancing care through collaboration

In addition to treating behavioral health problems, the psychiatric staff is on hand to assist patients who have chronic medical problems.

“One of the biggest challenges kids with chronic illnesses face is accepting their condition and adhering to the prescribed medication regimen,” said Dr. Herrick. “We can help patients change their perceptions about their medical conditions. Our ultimate goal is to assist pediatric subspecialists in supporting children and families to develop comprehensive treatment plans that improve patient outcomes.”

Take action at first sign of problems

Like adults, children and teens can experience a variety of behavioral health problems, including depression, panic attacks, anxiety, attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorders, substance abuse and more.

Dr. Herrick encourages parents to see past the stigma attached to mental health issues and seek professional advice if they suspect their child has a problem.

“Kids and teens are exposed to all kinds of stressful situations these days—academically, socially, even the economy,” noted Dr. Herrick. “Withdrawing from life and friends, falling grades, and being less communicative with parents are all signs that a problem may be brewing.”

Help is readily available

Fortunately, children and adolescents with behavioral health issues can find relief with timely and appropriate treatment and supports. “Many times, kids who are afraid to share with their parents feel comfortable talking with a professional in a private and confidential setting,” said Dr. Herrick.

“By working together,” he added, “families and mental health professionals can help children and adolescents restore their health.”




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