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Healing The Hurt Of Mental Illness Within Urban Youth

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The awkward thought of mental illness immediately leads one to think of the word "crazy"---but Illinois Medical Authorities believe the words mental illness to have a completely different meaning and are working hard to get rid of the stigma "crazy" that holds the words mental illness so closely. As defined by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Rashad Saafir of Chicago's Bobby E. Wright Behavioral Center, mental illness is an overall sense of well being---when dealing with high levels of stress and exposure to the negativity of everyday life one can be exposed to mental illness. Meaning everyone deals with some type of mental illness each and everyday. From schizophrenia to depression, mental illness swarms urban communities throughout our nation and the undiagnosed have plagued these cities causing much disruption . This is why Dr. Rasad Saafir is working with community leaders throughout the city of Chicago to help especially the youth resolve the problems of mental illness within urban communities.

Gerard Moorer community leader and Assistant District Director for Congressman Danny Davis is currently working hand and hand with Dr. Saafir on helping to resolve the problem of mental illness within the North Lawndale area, one of Chicago's most dangerous places to live, on the West side of Chicago. Moorer believes that the youth have become accustomed to such violent behaviors due to an undiagnosed mental illness syndrome. Moorer is working hard by way of projects like (PACUP) Police and Community United for Peace by way of bridging the gap between community and the police to help build trust between the two and Families First Panthers Football program in order to redirect the minds of the youth with positive reinforcement through athletics. Moorer says "Everything begins with the mind and when their minds are occupied positively they think and they act positively." Moorer is currently the Secretary For The Board Of Directors for the Bobby E. Wright Behavioral Center and currently he and Dr.Saafir are working on a project that will provide better mental health resources to more youth in the community. Dr. Saafir currently works with youth between the ages of 0-17 and find that when a child is unhappy with the environmental that he/she lives in---depression seeks in, which strains the mind causing a type of mental illness for the child. Both community leaders feel that the biggest problem is the youth that have not been diagnoses, and this is the reason why so many urban communities are drained with so much violence. Moorer adds "The combination of drugs, alcohol and economic depression has caused so much disruption---it's a lack of the proper resources with no attention being given to the mental issues in our communities."

Currently there are very few mental health clinics within the North Lawndale region of urban Chicago, with the Bobby E. Wright Center being just next door in the West Garfield area. With a lack of resources it's almost impossible to serve the many urban communities of the West side of Chicago that are dealing with the issues of youth mental illness. Dr. Saafir suggest that if the mental illness clinics would work together there may be a resolve to many of the problems but there are still many resources needed. Dr.Saafir made mention that there needs to be more genuinely concerned political leaders like Mr. Moorer that have a level of connections to understanding the issues. Mr. Moorer grew up in the North Lawndale area and has lived there most of his life trying to help stop the violence that bombards the area. According to Dr.Saafir mental illness and violence are learned behaviors and a lot of what our youth are dealing with in urban communities are problems at home. Dr. Saafir believes that the resolve to many of the problems involving youth mental illness will come by way of developing programs that get the entire community involved and helping parents learn different ways of managing the behaviors of their children. While recent studies show that children who have been traumatized by violence within urban communities are four times likely to end up in the juvenile system, gun violence continue to take away the lives of many youth due to mental illness within urban communities through out America. When will the violence stop---and are the right Legislatures being put in place to deal with the mental issues that plague urban America---Do they care about our children? This question is for you answer---it's time to act now!

Symptoms Of A Mentally Ill Child

1. Difficulty Concentrating
2. Mood Swings
3. Intense Feelings
4. Doing physical harm to self or others
5.Thoughts of physical harm to self or others
6. Sudden weight loss or weight gain
7. Behavioral Changes
8. Substance Abuse
9. Bed Wetting
10. Nightmares
11. Isolation/withdrawal for more than 2 weeks
12. Feeling sad more often than happy
13. Worries that get in the way of everyday activities
14. Involved in multiple fights
15. Severe out of control behavior
16. Drastic changes in personality
17. Trouble Sleeping
18. Hard to explain negative behaviors

If your child has any of these symptoms contact your nearest behavioral clinic to have your child diagnosed.

To contact the Bobby E. Wright Behavioral Center in the West Chicago area call 773-722-7900 or email Dr. Rashad Saafir at rsaafir@bewcbhc.org

The Bobby E. Wright Behavioral Center is located at 9 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60612

Books On Dealing With Youth Mental Illness

1. Young People And Mental Health: Author, Aggleton

2. Counseling Troubled Teens And Their Families: Authors, Andrew J. Weaver,John D. Preston, and Leigh Jerome

3.Treating and Preventing Adolescent Mental Health Disorders-05 Edition: Author, Dwight L. Evans

4. The Stigma of Mental Illness Among Youth: A Practical Guide for Child and Adolescent Therapists: Author, Erin K. Hanrahan

5. The Crisis In Youth Mental Health: Author, Hiram E. Fitzgerald

Websites On Helping Youth With Mental Illness

1. http://www.findyouthinfo.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health
2. http://www.mentalhealthchicago.org/
3. http://www.erasingthedistance.org/resources/
4. http://www.mercyhome.org/mental-health-services
5. http://www.c4chicago.org/

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