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As of this year, there are 800,000 children in foster care in the United States.  Most of those children are removed from their birth homes due to severe neglect, abuse or trauma.  When children spend the early years of their lives in traumatic or neglectful situations, they are more likely to develop mental health issues.  Not surprisingly then, foster care alumni (adults who grew up within the foster care system) have disproportionately higher rates of mental health issues.  However, according to a study found in Child Welfare, the actual rate of mental health issues and comorbid physical symptoms floored me.  In comparison to the general population, where 64% experiences depression that is comorbid with other mental health issues or physical symptoms like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, 98% of foster care alumni experience comorbid depression.  94% experience comorbid Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Even when children are removed from traumatic situations early, they continue to deal with significant consequences of that early trauma as adults.  Granted, it should be expected that children who came from abusive or traumatic situations have behavioral or mental health issues.  (I don’t say that as a matter of judgment, simply as a matter of survival.*)  However, I would think that when children are removed from their homes and put into the child welfare system, regular mental health checks and timely follow-up would be mandatory.  Apparently, timely follow-up may be the missing piece of the puzzle.  75% of children who enter the foster care system with serious and obvious clinical impairment will not have received mental health service 12 months following their intake.

In light of these sobering statistics, child welfare systems are expanding their services.  Treatment Foster Homes and additional services are becoming more readily available.  When these children have access to mental health coverage through their insurance, they use it.  In California, although children in foster care represent only 4% of the state-sponsored health insurance, they use 43% of all expenditures.  Expanding the availability of mental health coverage would seem to be a necessary portion of the solution.

Pecora, P.J. Jensen, P.S., & et. Al (2009). Mental health services for children placed in foster care: an overview of current challenges.  Child Welfare. 88(1).  5-25.

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How does individual perspectives on time change individual happiness?  Phillip Zimbardo, the same researcher who conducted the famous prison experiments in Stanford’s basements, is now researching happiness.  He has found that people’s perspectives on time play a consistent role in their present happiness, satisfaction with their past, and anticipation for the future.

I would recommend taking the survey from his webpage.  It is surprisingly right on.  What will make you happier?

American Psychological Association (2009, July 6).  Psychology of thriving: Mental health is not just expelling illness. Now, science explores what it takes to flourish. Retrieved July 11th, 2009 from http://www.psycport.com/showArticle.cfm?xmlFile=knightridder_2009_07_06__0000-1326-PH-Psychology-of-thriving-0706.xml&provider=

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Thank a veteran today.

Thank a veteran today.

To celebrate, some fun Freud Jokes.

  • That’s the thing about Frued.  If it’s not one thing, it’s your mom!
  • A Freudian slip is saying one thing, but meaning your mother.
  • I had dinner tonight with my mother. I made a classic Freudian slip. I meant to say, ‘Can you pass me the salt, please?’ But it comes out, ‘You creep, you ruined my childhood.’ -Jonathon Katz

Can you think of more?

The woman who made this video deals with severe and persistent autism.  Her explanation from YouTube.Com:

The first part is in my “native language,” and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.

In spite of widely held stereotypes, individuals experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms actually more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.  This may be due to their behaviors driving caretakers away and/or an increased focus on the internal mental state on the part of the the individual.  When individuals are experiencing an increase in symptoms, it is recommended that they consider spending less time in public spaces, community treatment facilities or increases in guardianship.

Georgia State University (2009, April 14). Increased Symptoms Lead Mentally Disordered To Become Victims Of Violence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/04/090414120459.htm

I read this blog post today and thought that it was really interesting.  It talks about how it would seem that a lot of our hesitation to do things comes from a fear of inadequacy and then, how to conquer that fear through action.  Check it out:

Zen Habits: A Guide to Beating The Fears that are Holding You Back

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