Integrated mental health services help Minnesota kids

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“Usually kids are like, ‘I would run!’ And I’m like, ‘I would run, too,’” she said.

She explains the amygdala or “alert center” can go off when it’s not supposed to, like when a kid is at school with friends or their mom drops them off at day care.

They talk about ways to get the prefrontal cortex, or “thinking brain,” back in charge. One common technique is taking slow, deep breaths.

“I tell parents at the end, ‘I don’t care if they remember their amygdala. … It’s more about … who’s in charge? Is my amygdala or is my thinking brain?’” Christensen said.

When Corrieri joined the practice, Sartell Pediatrics was able to offer more services to young adults and parents. Christensen primarily works with children ages 5 and up.

“It’s tough for parents … if you have a child who’s struggling with something,” Christensen said. “A lot of times, parents are kind of left in the dust. …You, at times, feel helpless or hopeless. Sometimes they need a person for them, too.”

The same goes for siblings and other relatives. Corrieri will also work with couples or with both parents, to help them co-parent better.

The convenience of the clinic makes it easier for parents to ask for and get help.

“These moms are tired. They’re burnt out. They don’t know where to go for support. … A lot of moms … are not even taking the time to take care of themselves,” Christensen said. “They can … have their own appointment while their kid has their appointment.”

Often, it’s just creating space for conversation.

“Whether that’s because there’s a teenager who doesn’t want to communicate, or there’s an adult who doesn’t know how to communicate. … We can help facilitate some of that,” Correri said.

Some of it is just education: how to talk, how to listen, and how to move forward.

It’s all important to help the child at the center of this to heal. When you treat a child, you’re also treating their parents, siblings, relatives, teachers and everyone in their world.

“What do they say, it takes a village, right?” Corrieri siad.

In the future, staff hope to start group therapy, including groups for moms, teen girls or teen boys. They already have a social skills group for kids on the autism spectrum, and hope to add more.

“It’s treating the family as a whole system,” Corrieri said. “Sartell Pediatrics just wants the whole family unit to be healthy, to be safe and happy.”

An AP Member Exchange shared by the St. Cloud Times.

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