May 14, 2020

I met many children around the country who were eager to talk to me about their mental health issues. This was an encouraging sign. I have tried my best to make sure school staff are able to follow up with parents to provide appropriate professional help.

Young children are often not able to express how they might be feeling. Children in middle schools or in high schools, often know that something is not right, but they worry about the stigma and decide not to disclose their issues to adults around them. I had experienced the same thing myself. My OCD started when I was 16 years old, but I kept it hidden from everyone until I was 21. That simply delayed the start of my treatment by 5 years.

That is why it is quite encouraging when some children come up to me and share their issues with me. This typically happens soon after one of my presentations. After listening to me they realize that there is no stigma attached to discussing openly about mental health issues and receive appropriate treatment as necessary. Also, they realize that if they share their issues with me, they will not be judged.

Anytime a child has come up to me and talked to me about his or her issues, I always made sure that some adults around them (such as school staff) are aware of the issues so they can work with the parents to check this out for the child. Most children feel relieved when they know that their issues are out in the open, in the hands of caring adults who will not judge them for these issues. I know I felt tremendous relief when I finally opened up and found that everything would be fine – it’s just an illness that needed to be treated.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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