Sunday, December 16, 2007
I have been a consultant on site at a high school district for the past 19 years. It has been a wonderful experience. I was initially brought on staff as the special ed director noted that a significant majority of the special ed students had underlying mental health issues. When their health needs were not adequately addressed they required a greater level of school intervention including residential placement. Because psychiatric illness is often difficult to diagnose and medication management of symptoms can be quite difficult and challenging, observation of a multidisciplinary team can be helpful to give insight into a child's function and academic and emotional needs. Teachers and staff oftentimes spend more time with the youths than their own parents and they have a classroom full of other children that serve as "controls". It's also reassuring for staff when they know that a psychiatrist has experience understanding and managing the extremes in symptoms and behaviors and nothing is intimidating. The psychiatrist knows enough neurology and medicine to direct and triage treatment and recommendations. A child psychiatrist will be familiar with options for intervention such as day treatment, hospital, residential settings, community health centers, private practice, etc. It often does "take a village to raise a child" and we psychiatrists are one of the village people.