Beyond the Diagnosis: Conversations at Mt. Zion UMC



On September 12, during National Suicide Prevention Week, the Stephen Ministers at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Marietta held an open panel discussion about mental health issues facing children and teens. The church partnered with three specialists from Parkaire Consultants, Inc. and held the event in their sanctuary. Parkaire Consultants, Inc. provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for children, adolescents and adults needing therapeutic intervention. 

At the beginning of the event the three panelists -- Mary Jane Trotti, Gayle Born, and Jim Trotti -- gave a 15-minute lecture on the topics they are most familiar with.

Mary Jane Trotti spoke about neurodevelopmental disorders. These can be either regulatory disorders and non-regulatory disorders. Regulatory disorders are characterized by the infant or young child's difficulties in regulating behavior and physiological, sensory, attentional, motor or affective processes, and in organizing the calm, alert, or effectively positive state. These types of disorders typically occur in clusters. Non-regulatory disorders are issues that are more chronic, like Autism. Since 2000, the number of children placed on the Autism spectrum has increased by 150%.

When working with children facing these disorders, Mary Jane uses the analogy of a trash can. Brain trash, as she calls it, is any negative dark thought that children think about themselves. She encourages them to have a stack of sticky notes and whenever a brain trash thought comes to mind to physically get up and throw away a piece of paper. Trotti says “when you leave brain trash in your head, you don’t feel very good.”

Many people are familiar with ADHD, or Attention Deficit Disorder. The ‘H’ can stand for Hyperactive or Hypoactive. It’s not always the child bouncing off the walls that can’t sit still. Sometimes it’s also the child that moves like a slug, that isn’t particularly focused or motivated.

"They see the world a little differently,” says Gayle Born, “they see a different kaleidoscope.” She says sometimes the brain is organized and sometimes it’s not.

The hallmarks of ADHD include dysregulation of attention, impulsivity, and sometimes hyperactivity.

Jim Trotti works with individuals of all ages but specializes in working with adolescent and teenage boys. He uses Cognitive and Behavioral strategies to treat individuals with neurological disorders such as ADHD, Depression, Bipolar, Learning Disabilities, and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. He says that there’s a big difference between naughty and neurology.

One of the leading causes of teen depression is social failure, that’s where Jim steps in. He helps combat unhealthy thought processes in addition to individual counseling. Jim also teaches motor planning (specifically for use in sports) to kids with Developmental Coordination Disorders.

After each panelist presented their 15-minute lesson, all three joined together on stage to answer questions from the audience. Many hands shot up; some for their children, some for friends, and some for adults in their lives that are facing the same thing. 

Whether your children, a neighbor, or you specifically are dealing with mental health issues it’s important to know you are not alone and that there are resources out there for you. You don’t have to go through the difficult times on your own. 

Jessica Bradford is communications specialist for the North Georgia Conference.