MinnPost recently reported on the work of a professor at the University of Minnesota's department of family social science. The professor advocates for early intervention among children who are considered at-risk for substance abuse and mental health problems later in life.
"It's been said that no disease has ever been cured by treating someone who already has it," he told reporters. "Thinking about this statement was somewhat of an epiphany for me and led to a refocusing of my career goals to the study of prevention aimed at young people who were at risk for serious mental health and chemical dependency disorders."
The professor formed a support group for kindergartners who were showing signs of oppositional, disruptive and nonconforming behaviors that could signal emotional or developmental disturbances. Those students participated in a six-week summer camp designed to offer therapeutic, educational and self-esteem building activities that would enrich their lives. The students' parents also attended the program, in order to receive information and advice about effective parenting techniques.
"We must see a mental health problem as a preventable disease and seek to not only treat it, but also to identify those at risk and intervene before it's too late," he said of the program. "And, like most disease, it is essential to look at each case on an individual basis and develop personalized, tailored interventions to improve the overall effectiveness of the treatment and efficiency in its delivery…"
The professor reported following the children through the eleventh grade and seeing lower instances of substance abuse, poor academic performance and mental health problems than might have been expected. However, he also said that parent involvement was increasingly difficult to sustain as the children grew older, and many didn't see the purpose of the therapeutic sessions.
At Fairwinds Treatment Center, we know that therapeutic counseling is absolutely crucial if someone is to have the chance at long-term recovery after suffering from drug addiction. Addiction problems often stem from underlying psychological pain that triggers unhealthy, often fatal behaviors. Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef founded the center in 1989 in order to treat patients with his dual diagnosis methodology, wherein he would treat patients clinically but also therapeutically.
Dr. El-Yousef also places a great deal of emphasis on family therapy, and the family members of Fairwinds patients are encouraged to receive education themselves so they can gain knowledge about their loved one's disease and treatment plan. Recovery may begin at Fairwinds, but it will survive at home, which is why it's so important to create a network of educated support to encourage full healing of mind, body and spirit. With the right professional treatment, we believe that anyone can lead a happier and healthier life.