EPIC (Early Prevention in the Community), a program through Rockford’s Children’s Home and Aid, assists local children who need help coping with their world through counseling.
Most referrals come to the EPIC program via a child’s teachers. However, principals, medical professionals, and even parents are encouraged to contact the program if they notice a child struggling to adapt to their environment. Whether the child is unable to regulate emotions such as anger or fear or is unable to recognize age appropriate social cues, EPIC can help the child learn new skills to improve their relationships and daily functioning.
EPIC staff stays in contact with school personnel, taking a team approach to handling and gently changing a child’s maladaptive behavior. EPIC staff can assist parents at conferences, staffings, and other instances in which a liaison would be beneficial.
The EPIC program can offer both one-on-one and group therapy to youngsters, as well as mental health assessments. Medicine Net states that the most common mental illnesses in young children are depression, anxiety disorders, and hyperactivity. Medicine Net goes on to say that about a quarter of children experience mental illness before reaching adulthood.
To see what an EPIC behavioral assessment looks like click EPIC Assessment.
This list, from Mayo Clinic, spells out the warning signs of mental illness in young people.
- Mood changes. Look for feelings of sadness or withdrawal that last at least two weeks or severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships at home or school.
- Intense feelings. Be aware of feelings of overwhelming fear for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing — or worries or fears intense enough to interfere with daily activities.
- Behavior changes. These includes drastic changes in behavior or personality, as well as dangerous or out-of-control behavior. Fighting frequently, using weapons and expressing a desire to badly hurt others also are warning signs.
- Difficulty concentrating. Look for signs of trouble focusing or sitting still, both of which might lead to poor performance in school.
- Unexplained weight loss. A sudden loss of appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate an eating disorder.
- Physical symptoms. Compared with adults, children with a mental health condition may develop headaches and stomachaches rather than sadness or anxiety.
- Physical harm. Sometimes a mental health condition leads to self-injury, also called self-harm. This is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. Children with a mental health condition also may develop suicidal thoughts or actually attempt suicide.
- Substance abuse. Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings.