Meet the Expert »
Barbara Wilson
Barbara is a professional psychiatric social worker. She's designed and implemented the programs, and facilitated the transition of people with serious mental illnesses from the state hospitals to their communities. She has worked for the State of California, and the Los Angeles County.

Her work has required considerable face to face outreach, consistent collaboration with other community agencies, families, and finally, the adult or elderly client. She specializes in the chronically mentally ill to include; children or persons having developmental disabilities, elderly, and courtroom testimony. She retired from Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health in 1992 after 25 years of service.

In retirement, Barbara pursued academia at California State University Northridge in 2000. In 2010, she returned to actively working in social work for persons who have significant and chronic forms of serious mental illness. Barbara created Mental Health Hook-up after witnessing the serious state of lack of coordination and communication both for "consumers" and their families.

Barbara has a BS degree and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Nebraska, at Lincoln.

She resides in "Awesome Town" Santa Clarita, California, where she has lived for 30 years.


Contact Information
Phone: 661-799-7994
Address: 23560 Lyons Avenue
  Newhall, CA 91321
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Mental Health Services Questions Answered by Barbara Wilson »
Section: Mental Health Services
Q:  What is the best way to have a young child evaluated for mental health issues?
A:  In response to your question about the best way to have a young child evaluated for mental health issues, I would  like to compliment you on your keen observations about this child's behaviors that are causing you concerns as well as your equally keen intuition as a parent that perhaps these behaviors  may/may not be "within the normal range"  of childhood development.
 
While you don't indicate the age or sex of the child, birth order, etc of this child certain truths apply no matter what.   We never make psychiatric assumptions without a complete a thorough head-to-toe physical assessment.   This type of "physical"  is generally more complete and includes certain lab tests that are not routinely ordered.  Of particular importance is a neurological examination that includes an EEG to rule out any organic issues that may be at the root of a symptom you or others might be observing.
 
Second Step:   Psychologist Assessment
Again this is not routinely ordered because of the additional cost but in my experience, the cost of a Private Assessment completed by a licensed and competent psychologist is well worth it to the parents in assisting them to understand what their child's issues and strengths are as well as how best to address any skill deficits. 
 
Third step:   Co-ordinate  a plan  to obtain the services that you and your team have identified  as necessary to strengthen your child's core issues.   This is often best done with the help of an independent licensed clinical social worker since they often  interface with multiple agencies, both public and private, in the community.  They can save you time.   They may be able to assist you in targeting those services  most likely to provide the specific services your child needs.  They know what the requirements of each agency is.  L.C.S.W.'s  are also great at advocacy for their clients;  and,  they can  help families  navigate large, sometimes overwhelming, bureaucracies and cut red-tape.
 
  That is one of the primary services we provide here at mentalhealthhookup.  We are local and would be happy to help you and your family in any way you might find useful.  We subscribe to the National Association of Social Workers' Code of Ethics.   Call us for a consultation.  We make house calls!

Barbara b Wilson, LCSW

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Section: Mental Health Services
Q:  I know someone that has a tendency to have bipolar episodes but they have never been diagnosed by a doctor..what is the best way to support them and convince them to get and keep a job?
A:  Thank you for submitting this question because it takes great courage to ask.   The answer is being debated all over America today both in the medical/psychiatric communities and in congress even as I write to you.   At its core, your question revolves around the issue of the rights of an individual to choose for himself when and/or whether to seek medical/psychiatric treatment versus  the observations of others, including family members, that an individual should be forced to get treatment.  If the person is 14-18 years old, this issue can be complicated.  However, if the person is over 18 years old the law clearly states that unless a person is clearly hurting another person, in danger of significantly hurting himself, or can be shown to be unable to provide for his own needs he/she retains the same rights as any other American to choose.
 
In your example of possible bi-polar illness,  that is a illness that the affected person often is the last to know.   That is part of the illness.   Therefore it is important that you avoid interfering with the person getting to understand that he needs help.   The longer you "help"  by meeting his responsibilities for him,  the longer it may take for him to glean that his behavior is affecting his life.  This is very important.  Lecturing, scolding, demanding, crying, etc are even less effective.
 
What you Can do:
  • Keep yourself safe and be kind but firm
  • Do not leave minor children in his care for transportation or supervision expecting him to be attentive to their needs--that constitutes child neglect and the consequences can be both legal and lethal
  • Locate mental health and social resources for you and any children to help to maintain social connectedness within your community
  • Educate yourself about mental illness, when to call 911, and learn the ABC's of mental health first aide.
 
One of the big tendencies of families that are affected by any form of mental illness is social withdrawal due to the potential of embarrassment by the affected family member.  Often there may be substance abuse connected which can increase the likelihood of unpredictable behavior.  Please feel free to call me at mentalhealthhookup.com to further discuss your situation confidentially so that we can give you some community resources that are specific to you and to your family.  Our 24-hour telephone number is 877-572-0955 or 661-799-7994.  While I know it can be difficult to make that call, please know that I stand ready to assist you in walking through this challenging situation step by step.  You are not alone unless you choose it.

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Section: Mental Health Services
Q:  I have a child that was diagnosed with autism from the school board and is in special education classes at public school. What additional services should I be looking into to help with this condition?
A: 

Thank you for your question.  I can see that you are a caring and actively engages parent.  Having experience with both people with mental disabilities and developmental disabilities, i know first hand how difficult it can be to access resources.

While you don't say the age of your child, sex, or birth order of your child I can give you some general guides and resources.

Guide #1:  Remember to schedule time for YOU separately from your family responsibilities.  This is often the first area that goes awry when there is a family member, especially our child, with special needs. 

Guide#2:  If there are other members in the family, especially other children, expect a certain level of anger towards both you and that child with special needs due to the overall percentage of time/attention that is given to that child.  Schedule appointment times with you and any other children in the family.  

Guide #3:    Get family counseling periodically to update or refocus as a family unit in much the same way that you get oil changes for prevention in vehicle maintenance.   Sitting with a neutral thrid party who has no agenda other than to help your total family cope and thrive can be a useful tool for preventiing major problems in the future.

Resources;

In addition to publicly funded resources such as the Regional Center system and the school system,  there are resources that are showing great promise but are not yet routinely covered by average health insurance plans.   One of these resources is the use of neurofeedback.   This is a non-invasive and non-chemical (pills) method of treatment.   Many children actually enjoy the treatments because of the interactivity which they get to observe.  

Here at mentalhealthhookup we offer a form of neurofeedback that i have personally seen reduce the need for medications for example.   Research universities and large medical facilities are using neurofeedback in many ways such as treating people with seizures, strokes, depression, anxiety,  Post-traumatic Brain Syndrome; traumatic brain injury, eating disorders, self-mutilation (cutting), addiction, ADHD, ADD  and autism to name but a few applications.  While there are some high-acievers and high performers who use these treatments to become  "more perfect",  this is a way to help people with "issues" as well.   As a parent, I have also used this treatment approach for my own child.

I hope that i have given you some food for thought.  For further consultation, please feel free to contact me at mentalhealthhookup.com at 877-572-0955 or  661-799-7994. 


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