Parents Wary of Other Children with Mental Illness
> 3/15/2007 4:34:54 PM

The ability to interact with other children, along with the appropriate support from teachers and caregivers, is one of the most important elements of a positive unpbringing and successful integrration for kids suffering from mental illness. But a somewhat disheartening study reveals that parents are often concerned about the negative influences that relationships with these children could bring upon their own. As a result, they are much less likely to approve of their children devloping friendships with mentally ill children than they are those afflicted by "normal troubles" or physical conditions like asthma.

In the study
, nearly 30 percent of participating parents stated that they would not like their child to play regularly with another child suffering from depression or ADHD, and more than 20 percent said that they wouldn't want the same child to move in next door. Children with ADHD and the depression that so often accompanies it already find it considerably more difficult to make friends. The behavioral tics associated with the condition may lead to insults and exclusion. And though the attitudes reflected in the study stem from the well-meaning maternal urge to protect one's child, they make it even harder for kids with related disorders to find playmates. Other studies indicate that the fresh air and open spaces of outdoor play can act as a counterbalance to certain symptoms of ADHD and depression, especially if the activities are cooperative in nature, while time spent inside without the presence of peers is likely to only further exacerbate the conditions.

The study's subjects didn't report as much apprehension regarding the possibility of children with depression sitting in the same classes as their own, and one has to wonder what actions they would take to implement their preferences and what sort of influences they look to avoid by keeping their kids away from their depressive peers. The best remedy for a depressive state is often a visit with a close friend, and depression is not a contagious disease. On learning that a child's buddy has been diagnosed with a mental illness, a parent might want to consider the issue from the other kid's perspective before dismissing him or her or forbidding further contact. Allowing the two to play together might be the best choice for everyone involved.

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