Thursday, 9 January 2020

Start Here by Pier Bryden and Peter Szatmari



It's no secret that mental health challenges among youth are on the rise; however, it's much easier for us as parents to diagnose (or at least suspect) a broken leg than it is for us to make a decision about depression or an eating disorder.

Star Here hopes to help parents navigate the initial steps towards finding help and supporting your child if there is a mental health issue. Broken into eight sections, Dr. Pier Bryden and Dr. Peter Szatmari use their combined experience to discuss anxiety, substance use disorders, eating disorders, sleep disorders, depression, trauma, suicide, psychosis, ADHD, and autism.

In each section you can find a road map on:
- how to recognize a child in distress
- risk factors
- prevention
- treatment

I thought it is helpful to explicitly describe the differences for each illness between a child in distress and a child going through a developmentally appropriate phase. The authors describe the warning signs to watch for and explain when to seek professional help.

I also thought it was helpful to include so much information on medications. This may feel overwhelming and scary for parents, because if and when to medicate your child is an enormous question. Dr. Bryden and Dr. Szatmari clearly explain when medication can be helpful, what kinds of medication may help each mental illness, when medication may not be the best option, and what other treatments are available either on their own or in conjunction with medication.

I hope that in reading this book, parents see that mental illness isn't anyone's fault and that, when parents are vigilant, there is much they can do to help.

My one criticism for Start Here is that in each scenario presented, the child/teen/school was open to support. However, what strategies are available for families who have children and teens who are not open to treatment? Secondly, at a time when budgets are constantly being cut, what tools and language can we give parents to walk into a school and advocate for their children?

This isn't a book everyone needs to read, but it is one to look though if you start to have questions about your child's mental health.

Start Here is available on January 28, 2020 from your favourite bookseller.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book from Simon and Schuster Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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