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Mental health experts urge parents to learn warning signs

In the wake of the police shooting of a Gilford teenager, mental health experts say many families in New Hampshire face difficult challenges with their children.Experts said anywhere from three to four out of 10 children will need some sort of psychiatric evaluation at some point in their lives, and one out of five get mental health care. Gilford police were called on Jan. 1 to Varney Point Road, where they found 17-year-old Mischa Fay armed with a knife, investigators said. One officer fired his Taser, while another shot and killed Mischa, officials said. Logs show it was the fifth time since February that police went to the house over mental health concerns for Mischa.”There are times where I do advise my clients to use law enforcement in that way,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Beth Connolly. Mental health experts who are not associated with the Gilford case said parents can hopefully notice the signs of mental illness before they escalate and can avoid situations escalating to dangerous confrontations. Those signs can be shyness for days, struggling to make friends at school for months, unable to express themselves well, being constantly lost, always catching up in schoolwork or being ostracized.”When you see something, raise a question rather than an opinion,” said Dr. Faud Khan, senior medical director at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. “That would be a good start.”Experts said all parents should educate themselves on mental health, try to connect with their children, ask other parents for advice and if it gets to a certain point, seek professional psychiatric help.”Oftentimes, just getting them there is the biggest part, and it becomes my way of trying to connect with them and to try to understand them,” Connolly said. Khan said he believes so many children today need mental help because of a structural failure of the system. He thinks things will get better when more people understand mental health and realize that it’s not the child’s fault.

In the wake of the police shooting of a Gilford teenager, mental health experts say many families in New Hampshire face difficult challenges with their children.

Experts said anywhere from three to four out of 10 children will need some sort of psychiatric evaluation at some point in their lives, and one out of five get mental health care.

Gilford police were called on Jan. 1 to Varney Point Road, where they found 17-year-old Mischa Fay armed with a knife, investigators said. One officer fired his Taser, while another shot and killed Mischa, officials said.

Logs show it was the fifth time since February that police went to the house over mental health concerns for Mischa.

“There are times where I do advise my clients to use law enforcement in that way,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Beth Connolly.

Mental health experts who are not associated with the Gilford case said parents can hopefully notice the signs of mental illness before they escalate and can avoid situations escalating to dangerous confrontations.

Those signs can be shyness for days, struggling to make friends at school for months, unable to express themselves well, being constantly lost, always catching up in schoolwork or being ostracized.

“When you see something, raise a question rather than an opinion,” said Dr. Faud Khan, senior medical director at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. “That would be a good start.”

Experts said all parents should educate themselves on mental health, try to connect with their children, ask other parents for advice and if it gets to a certain point, seek professional psychiatric help.

“Oftentimes, just getting them there is the biggest part, and it becomes my way of trying to connect with them and to try to understand them,” Connolly said.

Khan said he believes so many children today need mental help because of a structural failure of the system. He thinks things will get better when more people understand mental health and realize that it’s not the child’s fault.

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