Dealing with your child's mental illness

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Dealing with your child's mental illness

No parent easily takes on the idea that their child has any kind of major medical or psychiatric vulnerability. My experience is that parents go through some kind of grief process as they come to terms with what they are contending with. I think for mental illnesses it’s particularly acute, because in our society we still haven’t figured out that it’s not about the mother. We still haven’t figured out that basically the brain is part of the body and that if the brain has a vulnerability that is expressed in behavior, emotion and cognition. Parents can work to improve a child’s outcome, because the brain is plastic, especially when children are young. But it’s important, I think, for parents to accept our humanity. It’s not easy to take on this mantel of having a child that you’re going to have to attend to in this way. And I find that connecting with people in the National Alliance on Mental Illness, like through the NAMI basics course, helps people feel less alone, because no parent wants to feel alone with a troubled child.

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Kenneth Duckworth, MD

Psychiatrist, Harvard Professor & Medical Director for NAMI

Ken Duckworth, MD, serves as the medical director for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He is triple board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Adult, Child and Adolescent, and Forensic Psychiatry and has extensive experience in the public health arena.

Dr. Duckworth is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard University Medical School, and has served as a board member of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. Dr. Duckworth has held clinical and leadership positions in community mental health, school psychiatry and now also works as Associate Medical Director for Behavioral Health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Prior to joining NAMI in 2003, Dr. Duckworth served as Acting Commissioner of Mental Health and the Medical Director for Department of Mental Health of Massachusetts, as a psychiatrist on a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) team, and Medical Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.

Dr. Duckworth attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with honors and Temple University School of Medicine where he was named to the medical honor society, AOA. While at Temple, he won awards for his work in psychiatry and neurology. He also has a family member living with mental illness.

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