It’s Okay to Struggle. It’s Normal.

September 5th, 2017

New board member Dr. Reisha Brown, a pediatrician, wants families to know that mental health challenges are quite normal, and that help is available.

In her 10 years practicing as a pediatrician in Naples, Dr. Reisha Brown has seen a steady rise in children experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. She’s concerned, and she wants to be a part of the solution.

That’s one reason she’s gratified to serve as a new member of the Board of Directors at David Lawrence Center. Brown will serve a three-year term on the board’s Clinical Practices Committee.

“I’ve seen a definite increase in children and families who are experiencing these challenges,” says Brown, who regularly refers her patients to DLC. “David Lawrence does a great job with these kids, and I really like that they have a crisis facility and walk-in assessment center, where you can just come in without an appointment and get help. That really is what many families need.”

Brown says she also hopes to help “bridge the gap” between DLC’s services to children and other healthcare professionals in Collier County. And she wants to help break down financial barriers for struggling families to get the help they need.

She says today’s children are experiencing more pressure to succeed than ever, which can drive them to anxiety, depression, or other dark places. “Expectations for children are so much higher than ever,” she says. “They’re getting too much of ‘Well, you could do better,’ and not enough ‘Hey, you did it!’ And not just from parents, but from peers too. Social media contributes a lot to that.

“I think that’s affecting children’s creativity, too. They’re afraid to take risks, to take a chance, to think outside the box. They’re too cautious, afraid to fail. I think I’m a successful adult because I failed at a lot of things. I succeeded in many things, but failed at many too. And we learn so much from being allowed to fail.”

Brown says parents need to recognize the warning signs that their children might be in trouble: “Keep an eye out for any kind of change,” she says. “A change in their interests, abilities, habits, relationships. Anger is a telltale sign. Changes in sleep patterns. Changes in eating. A drop in grades or interest in school. Anything that’s different.”

Whatever the problem, Brown encourages parents to seek help right away.

“People need to understand that it’s okay to have struggles with mental health,” she says. “There’s no stigma. It’s acceptable. We all will experience mental health issues at some time in our lives. It’s normal.”

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