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Children's Mental Health: New Help For Parents

January 23, 2007

One in five children in South Dakota may have a treatable mental problem, but while most parents know how to deal with a physically ill child, few know where to go for mental, emotional or behavior problems. A newly released "Parent's Guide to Children's Mental Health" can help families fill the gap, according to Dr. Susan Randall with South Dakota Voices for Children, who says the guide will help parents navigate the state's mental health system so kids get the help they need.

"It's the first of its kind in our state to provide information for parents about accessing children's mental health services. We think this is just huge."

Roy Conrad with Southeastern Behavioral Health Care in Sioux Falls calls the guide 'a road map for parents.' He explains it covers everything from finances to symptoms and includes all the locations of the state's mental health centers.

"Information is power for parents and others, and having a guide like this covers half the battle through knowing where to go, how to get help and how to recognize different patterns in children's behavior to get them the help they need."

Penny McCormick-Giles with the South Dakota Association of School Psychologists believes the guide is an important tool for teachers and other school officials.

"South Dakota is a rural state and there isn't someone around the corner for everybody. The nice thing about this book is that it identifies things; it gives an idea for parents about who to contact, how to contact them and what they need to do."

Copies of the guide are available at both public and school libraries across the state and on line at SDvoicesforchildren.org.

The guide was developed by South Dakota Voices for Children through a grant from the Wellmark Foundation and was reviewed by mental health professionals from across the state.

David Law/Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD