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Part II- Seeking help for children's behavioral and mental health issues

By Meghan Packer, Reporter, MPacker@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 26 2014 09:06:44 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 26 2014 09:51:30 PM CST

69 News has followed the progress of a Wilson, Northampton County family as a mother gets help for her children facing different mental health and behavioral issues.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

69 News has followed the progress of a Wilson, Northampton County family as a mother gets help for her children facing different mental health and behavioral issues.

"Home life is definitely much better, they get along a lot better," Zeyna Ahmed said recently of her four children. 69 News checked in six months after first visiting their home. At the time therapist John O'Reilly was visiting their house to work with two of Ahmed's four children.

"Right now only one receives services and he's down to only an hour a week and he's made tremendous progress," Ahmed said. "My 11-year-old is now just doing outpatient services twice a month."

O'Reilly is with Progressions, a mental health provider with several locations including Allentown and Reading. Different locations offer different services and the Allentown office focuses on behavioral issues in children and young adults.

"A lot of times when parents come here, they're at their wit's end," said Deborah Nelson, Psy.D., the site director at the Allentown location. "They may have had issues with their child in school or they may have had something happen and all of the sudden they've had to take them to the emergency room."

69 News spoke with other satisfied Progressions parents.

Eugenia Pugh, the mother of an 11-year-old girl, said, "This program has helped her in unbelievable ways for the better, she knows how to deal with her anger."

Mary-Elizabeth Gray, who has a four-year-old adopted son, said, "I believe having the programs out there to help these children is a great thing as long as the parents are willing to step in and also help."

In order for a child to be served by someone at Progressions, they have to have a mental health diagnosis and behavioral issues. Staff members work with children at home, school, or other locations in the community. Other Progressions locations offer outpatient services.

Nelson said, "The families that come in here are often dealing with a variety of behavioral issues and that could kind of be compounded by another diagnosis whether it's a mental health diagnosis or whether it's the intellectual disability diagnosis, too."

Progressions is not the only local provider to offer these services, it just happens to be one that helped Zeyna Ahmed's children.

Ahmed said, "They made tremendous progress having someone come to the home, help them deal with the family issues and dealing with each other."

Ahmed and Nelson encourage parents with concerns about their children's behavior to take the first step.

"Don't hesitate to call to ask for help," said Nelson. "I think it's often difficult to navigate the systems of mental health. It's often difficult to know what you need. Be persistent."

Ahmed said, "Don't be afraid to get your child help."

Both Lehigh County and Northampton County have mental health programs as well.