Weighing the pros and cons
July 21, 2010 12:52 PM Subscribe
What might be the implications of getting my 6-year-old daughter assessed by a mental health clinic?
posted by yawper to health & fitness (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My almost 6-year-old daughter is a happy and well-adjusted child. She also shows some signs of OCD. NO, I am not a doctor and I am not diagnosing her. But from the reading I’ve done and the behaviours she exhibits, I do believe she has at least a mild form of it (there is also a family history). This would not concern me if it didn’t seem to negatively impact her life, but it does. At times it causes her a fair amount of stress. She is embarrassed about some of the things she does (compulsions) and she avoids certain activities which she would otherwise enjoy due to the “OCD”.
I spoke to our family doctor about my concerns and he referred my daughter to a child and adolescent mental health clinic for an assessment. The assessment is a 1-2 hour interview conducted with both of us (my daughter and me) together, and also with us separately (i.e. they will interview her alone at some point).
I have a couple of concerns:
1 – my daughter’s “symptoms” ebb and flow. At the time that I made the appt with the family doctor (4 months ago), she was in a phase where she was obsessing a LOT over a certain thing and it was greatly impacting her life. I spoke to her about her intrusive thoughts and read her a book called “Up and Down the Worry Hill” which she liked a lot. She was relieved to see that other kids have the same issues and was looking forward to meeting the “special doctor” who would help her control the worrying thoughts. However, since that time she has basically dropped that obsession and is in a “lull” period. This is pretty normal for her. She still exhibits small OCD behaviours, but it’s no big deal – very easy for her to deal with. I’m a bit concerned that taking her to the doctor to talk about things now might make her uncomfortable – I think she feels normal right now and reminding her of the obsessions might make her upset. (As I said, she’s already embarrassed about it.) On the one hand, I want to help her get help if she needs it. On the other hand, I don’t want her to get a complex if it is something she can deal with on her own.
2 – what other implications might the assessment have? My father (a practicing physician) said that once a person gets into the system, it’s hard to get out of it. She will get diagnosed and treated and labeled and it will shape her for the rest of her life. Right now she’s a very happy, bubbly child – she’s really a joy to anyone who knows her. My parents (who know her extremely well) are afraid we might pull that happiness out of her by subjecting her to assessments and treatments that may ultimately be unnecessary (the signs she exhibits are relatively mild – right now). Also, is this something that could affect her ability to get insured (for example)? Can insurance companies even ask the question “have you ever been assessed for/diagnosed with a mental illness”? I am confident that her school will not know about this unless we tell them – the social worker at the clinic assured me of that. But I worry that it might affect other areas of her life.
Should we go through with this assessment? Any guidance would be appreciated. I would especially appreciate hearing stories from people who have been assessed for similar issues and how that impacted them down the line. We are in Ontario, Canada, if it helps.