If you're the parent of a child with a mental disorder, you know how difficult raising that child can be. However, a new program has made it's way to the Siouxland area and it's here to help. Integrated Health Home and hundreds of children on Medicaid in Woodbury County may be eligible for its pediatric mental health program.
"You feel alone," said Nicole Knight, a family support specialist at IHH. "You feel like you don't know what to do for your child. You want to help them but you don't know what to do."
It's a feeling that's not uncommon across the country. In fact, The National Alliance on Mental Illness says 21 percent of children in the U.S. ages 9 to 17 have a diagnosable mental disorder, that includes several conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Autism and more. Not treating these disorders can lead to a more severe illness. One treatment option is the Integrated Health Home program in Siouxland.
"Not once has there been a personalized team to have a single point of access for a family, or an adult or a child to help navigate the system and provide coordinated care," said Shelia Martin, IHH program supervisor.
Each patient has a team of three specialists. First, a nurse care manager.
"A nurse care manager is going to help them with any physical health. The nurse will go out to their home. They can come here to the office. If they want that nurse to go with them to their primary care office, that's fine," said Martin.
Next, a care coordinator.
"A care coordinator can assist that family on building their natural supports," said Martin.
That's other families going through the same thing, and local groups who can help. Finally there's a family support specialist.
"As a family support specialist I work with the families and the children. Just to let them know that they are not alone," said Knight. "That if there is ever a time that they feel frustrated or don't know what to do they can call me and talk to me. I can be that extra shoulder."
Nicole Knight knows first-hand how a mental illness can affect a family. Her son was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD at the age of eight.
"It's been a very rough struggle," said Knight. "It's been tough. It's been one of those that I spent many night crying because I didn't know what to do,"
Nine years later.
"Now I can say that things are much better and I wish there would have been a program like this for my family when we first found out what my son was diagnosed with," said Knight.
Knight said the extra services that IHH provides, like being able to find community resources and support groups, are beneficial for the family.
"The children and the families in this community need something like this. They need that extra voice, that advocate for their family. Whether it be with the school system, with the doctors offices," said Knight.
If you feel the Integrated Health Home program would be a good fit for your child, please call (712)-244-1023; or, visit them at the Siouxland District Health Department in Sioux City.
"It can be lonely, but it doesn't have to be," said Knight.
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