SAN ANTONIA – May is Mental Health Month, and the Texas Telemedicine Access to Children’s Health Program (TCHATT) provides services to children and adolescents referred by their schools.
Rina Pordivala, Clinical Director of TCHATT at UT Health San Antonio, joined Leading SA Sunday to answer questions about mental health in our community.
“We started in September 2020, and in the 2020-21 school year we collaborated with about 10 districts and we got 1,200 referrals. That’s a lot of referrals. Now this school year we are collaborating with about 37 school districts and have received about 1,800 referrals, and the school year is not over yet. So that’s the main problem. And it is growing, ”Pardivala said.
When it comes to children, there can be a variety of mental health problems.
“I think most of all we see with children that we see great anxiety, especially after a pandemic. We see depression, a lot of PTSD. We’re also noticing, and I think more than ever, I’ve been working in psychiatry and in adolescents since 2015. I observe a lot of behaviors that hurt themselves, which is worse than ever. And there are a lot of suicidal thoughts, a lot of suicidal thoughts. Of course, we always see in mind unfocused, oppositional disobedience. Now we are also seeing much more eating disorders. So, of course, there are things that have grown significantly, especially in the last few years, ”Pardzivala said.
For many families and parents, there are signs to look out for.
“One of the biggest things we want to look for as a parent is isolation. I think this is one of the first signs we are starting to notice – our children lack interest in something. They lack energy. They seem to be hiding from family members. They no longer want to go to family events. I think one of the important things we look for in schools with teachers is that they start to notice these big changes in behavior. Thus, students suddenly stop focusing as before, or their school grades fall, or perhaps they are isolated even in school. They don’t hang out with their usual group of friends. I think one of the most important things we hear from children is how lonely they are. So when kids start talking about loneliness, I think that’s one of the first signs. We really need to look at what is happening to our child. In fact there are also sleep problems. If you start noticing that your child is not sleeping either, it is a really big indication that something may be going on, ”Pardivala said.
If you have any questions about the program or want to contact us, you can find more information here: https://lsom.uthscsa.edu/psychiatry/clinical-programs/cpan-tchatt/.
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