Approaching children’s health from head-to-toe
Ahead of National Stress Awareness Day on November 7, Florida KidCare reminds parents that checking in on a child’s mental well-being is critical but does not have to be intimidating. While often less thought of, behavioral or mental health is just as important as a child’s cardiovascular health, weight and other physical developmental benchmarks. Particularly following stressful situations, such as natural disasters like Hurricane Michael, children often feel as much stress as adults, although their symptoms may be subtle.
Being a kid today comes with a lot of pressures. According to research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Centers for Disease Control, 1-in-5 kids sitting in a classroom today has or will have a mental or behavioral health condition at some point during his or her life. That is why starting the conversation early is key. Mental illness is like any other disease; the earlier it is identified and treated, the better the health outcomes. To address this statistic, Florida KidCare reminds parents to consider their child’s pediatrician or family doctor a partner in starting an important mental health conversation.
Pediatric professionals know what to look for and are keeping a strong pulse on a child’s behavioral milestones and developmental benchmarks, and their established relationship with a child makes them a great resource for initial questions parents may have. Behavioral health does not have to be a scary topic. Parents are encouraged to share any concerns they have—the sooner the better, as early treatment improve outcomes.
A few keys signs to be mindful about include:
- If your child is having trouble sleeping or having loss of appetite
- If your child is reluctant to cooperate
- If your child is angry or irritable
- If your child’s grades are suffering
- If your child becomes less interested in an activity they once enjoyed
For more information on promoting emotional wellness in children, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics website:
“Florida KidCare is unique in its kids-only health and dental plans, and we believe a child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health,” said Florida Healthy Kids Corporation CEO Rebecca Matthews. “We strive to serve as a support system for parents in providing the best head-to-toe care possible.”
“As a doctor, I’m always monitoring a child’s growth and development to ensure he or she is meeting healthy benchmarks,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Brosco, Florida Healthy Kids Corporation Board Member and professor of clinical pediatrics and associate director of the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “As kids today face more and more challenges in their daily lives, we continue to see rising statistics when it comes to child mental health disorders. The good news is that resources are available to help identify and address behavioral health issues earlier than ever, which allows children and parents to get the support they need.”
“Providing quality healthcare services to our children could not be done without our partners and assistance from local communities,” said Department of Children and Families Interim Secretary Rebecca Kapusta. “We are grateful for Florida KidCare’s vital role, offering many healthcare benefits and access to services that meet each child’s specific needs.”
Current Florida KidCare families can contact their plan today to take advantage of mental and behavioral health benefits, including: member advocacy meetings; counseling services like telehealth counseling; support group meetings and online tools and resources.
For more information on Florida KidCare’s free or affordable health insurance, visit floridakidcare.org to apply for free today.
About Florida KidCare
Florida KidCare is the umbrella brand for the four government-sponsored health insurance programs – Medicaid, Florida Healthy Kids, MediKids, and Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan – that together provide a seamless continuum of coverage for Florida children from birth through the end of age 18. Benefits include doctor visits, check-ups, immunizations, prescriptions, emergency care, surgeries, dental care, and more. Most families pay nothing or as little as $15 or $20 per month. Full-pay options are available for those who do not qualify for subsidized coverage. Enrollment is open year-round at floridakidcare.org.
About the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation
The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation is a nonprofit, public-private partnership created by the Florida Legislature to expand access to affordable, child-centered health insurance. The Corporation administers Florida Healthy Kids (healthykids.org), a comprehensive health and dental insurance program for Florida children from age 5 through the end of age 18. The Corporation also provides marketing, customer services and administrative services for Florida KidCare.