Read the full piece in the Daily Bulldog here.
by Jenna Mehnert, NAMI Maine
Did you know that three-quarters of all mental health conditions develop by age 25 with the median age of onset for an anxiety disorder being 7?
Even more alarming is the reality that every year, since 2012, more children ages 10-14 have been lost to suicide than traffic fatalities.
Mental health struggles and thoughts of suicide are common, but not often discussed. NAMI Maine is dedicated to providing support and education for anyone impacted by mental health conditions. One of the supports we provide is the family respite program.
As the mother of a child with autism and anxiety, I can say that raising a child with mental health needs is challenging for lots of reasons. One of the most tangible was that I could never hire the teenager next door to watch my child. My child lacked any awareness of danger and was easily overwhelmed by loud noises or lots of activity. I know I missed little milestones in the lives of my other children because I had to stay focused on my son.
One of the most significant protective factors in the life of a child is a trusting and supportive relationship with an additional adult besides their parents.
Respite is designed to help parents, like me, by offering planned, intentional breaks. Being able to go for a quiet walk alone or go shopping with just one of my other children is what respite makes possible.
What we know is that even a little break can improve the mood of the caregiver and restore hope that they do have the ability to meet the complicated needs of their child.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking for a flexible side income, becoming a respite provide may be a great way to build your resume, earn some extra money and support a child in need of a bonus adult in their life. NAMI is always hiring providers and a primary requirement of all respite providers is empathy and an ability to meet the family on their terms as far as their individual respite needs. When and where respite occurs is very flexible; it can be provided in the family home, the provider’s home, or in the community. Respite providers get the pick the families that they want to work with and when they are able to provide respite.
NAMI currently has families in the respite program in the Franklin County area who could use a caring provider. The starting hourly rate for a respite provider is $11 and a person with some specialized training working with children can earn $13.25 an hour. Please contact NAMI at 800-464-5767 with any questions related to respite services or check out their many other resources or even start an application today at www.namimaine.org.
If you are a parent, like me, loving and raising a child with a mental health diagnosis or two or more developmental delays, please apply for respite support at www.namimaine.org