Mental Health Q&A with Kimberly Klaseen
Kimberly Klaseen, Children’s Bureau’s Associate Director of Mental Health, has worked in the mental health field with children and families for 13 years and has been with Children’s Bureau since the beginning of 2019. This Q&A is focused on mental health including child behaviors to observe, the various therapy treatments Children’s Bureau offers, and more.
Children’s Bureau: What are some mental health issues that children and families deal with?
Kimberly Klaseen: There are a lot of mental health issues, dilemmas and needs that children and adolescents struggle with. Some examples are anxiety, depression, poor anger management, isolation, trauma, suicidal/homicidal ideation. These issues are often similar for adults.
CB: What changes in a child’s behavior should parents look out for with respect to mental health?
KK: The most commonly reported signs of depression in children are changes in sleeping patterns, a constant desire to be alone, not interacting with peers, changes in eating patterns, changes in appearance, poor hygiene and lack of concentration.
Mental health issues can start even when kids are nonverbal, but it manifests differently. More crying, tantrums, and difficulty sleeping can be signs of depression or anxiety in a young child—but you know your child best. While this behavior marks normal development in toddlers, it may be cause for concern if you notice a change in behavior that is abnormal for your child, when these symptoms last longer than normal or your child cannot be soothed.
CB: What can parents do to promote their child’s well-being?
KK: The best way to promote mental well-being is by applying it to the everyday lifestyle. For example, constant communication, praise and demonstrating value to the child.
Always have children involved in extracurricular, educational and spiritual activities, especially ones that connect them to communities. Kids benefit from being taught about positive relationships, being sensitive to people’s feelings and not criticizing others.
CB: What mental health resources does Children’s Bureau provide?
KK: We provide an abundance of resources throughout Southern California, including individual therapy for children, adolescents and adults from birth to 21 years old. This therapy can be provided at home, school, community centers or Children’s Bureau offices.
Parent support therapy, prenatal and postpartum depression one-on-one treatment, and therapy groups are also available. (For more information, you can call 888-255-4542).
CB: What advice do you have for those concerned about their mental health?
KK: Trust the therapeutic process and mental health professionals. Just like when you don’t feel physically well, you see a doctor, seek out a mental health professional when you are not emotionally well.
Diet and exercise are important for mental health because there is a mind-body connection. Positive relationships, healthy hobbies, mindfulness, self-care and a work-life balance can all contribute to positive mental health.
CB: What advice do you have for those who are trying to support loved ones who struggle with mental illness?
KK: When supporting family/friends who are struggling, never criticize, but normalize. Do your best to refer them somewhere if they are not yet receiving services, involve them in activities, and provide reassurance that they can get better.
Just listening and being there for them to hear their struggles is a huge support. It is powerful in letting them know they are not alone.
For more information on Children’s Bureau’s Mental Health Services, please visit: https://www.all4kids.org/program/mental-health