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~~~   Ask the Drug Prevention Lady   ~~~

The "Drug Prevention Lady" is Kristi Lessen, substance abuse prevention specialist from Logan-Mason Mental Health (a division of Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois). She can be contacted at lessen.kristin@mhsil.com.

This feature is for educational purposes and not intended to be an alternative to emergency services. In case of emergency, dial 911.

May is Mental Health Month

Mental health matters every day

[MAY 23, 2003]  All children feel sad from time to time or have a bad day. However, when these feelings continue and begin to interfere with a child’s ability to function in daily life, clinical depression could be the cause. Depression is not a personal weakness, a character flaw or a mood that one can "snap out of." It is a serious mental health problem that affects people of all ages, including children. In fact, depression affects as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents, according to the federal Center for Mental Health Services.

No one thing causes depression. Adolescents who develop depression may have a family history of the disorder. Family history; stressful life events such as losing a parent, divorce or life changes; and physical or psychological problems are all factors that contribute to the beginning of the disorder. Adolescents who experience abuse, neglect or other trauma or who have a chronic illness are at a higher risk for depression. Adolescents who become clinically depressed are also at a higher risk for substance abuse problems.

Many teens with depression abuse alcohol and drugs as a way to numb or manage their feelings. Any child or adolescent who abuses substances should be evaluated for depression. If an addiction develops, it is essential to treat both the mental health disorder and the substance abuse problem at the same time.

Depression is treatable. Early identification, diagnosis and treatment help adolescents reach their full potential. Adolescents who show signs of depression should be referred to and evaluated by a mental health professional.

If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these symptoms, talk with your parents, a doctor or mental health professional.

--Frequent sadness, tearfulness or crying

--Feelings of hopelessness

--Withdrawal from friends and activities

--Lack of enthusiasm or motivation

--Decreased energy level


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--Major changes in eating or sleeping habits

--Increased irritability, agitation, anger or hostility

--Frequent physical complaints such as headaches and stomachaches

--Indecision or inability to concentrate

--Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt

--Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure

--Pattern of dark images in drawings or paintings

--Play that involves excessive aggression directed toward oneself or others, or involves persistently sad themes

--Recurring thoughts or talk of death, suicide or self-destructive behavior

May is Mental Health Month, a national observance dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. Now is the time to get involved and actively endorse community-based treatment and support programs. We can all work together to end the discrimination that people with mental illness face every day. We can support policies that fund mental health services, help individuals in their recovery and encourage those in need to seek treatment.

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~ Substance Abuse Prevention Program is paid for in part by the Illinois Department of  Human Services.


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