Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH) is proud to partner with the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital to provide personalized, compassionate care in your neighborhood. We offer the most advanced, comprehensive care for infants and children with medically complex conditions, disabilities and chronic illnesses. One of our newest specialty care areas is pediatric psychiatry.
UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH
Last fall, licensed clinical psychologist Sonya Dinizulu, Ph.D., began providing mental healthcare at LCMH for children ages 5 through 18. Dr. Dinizulu treats a wide range of mental health conditions in youth, including:
- Exposure to trauma or violence
- Disruptive behaviors
- Neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Mental health conditions often present themselves differently in children than they do in adults, Dr. Dinizulu says, as children may lack the vocabulary, skills or experience needed to describe how they’re feeling. “Most often, they show a change in behavior and mood,” she says. “They might seem more irritable, angry or withdrawn, or they may act out.”
If you notice changes in your child — especially if those changes are impacting other areas of your child’s life, such as his or her social relationships, development or academic performance — it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional with experience in treating children.
PERSONALIZED TREATMENT PLANS
During an initial visit, Dr. Dinizulu meets with a child and his or her caregiver. “I conduct an interview focused on identifying the presenting problems, and the biological, social and psychological factors that contribute to the child’s presentation. I also ask about the child’s personal strengths, as well as the family’s strengths. Then, I put together a treatment plan that will best serve each individual child,” she says. This plan typically involves weekly counseling sessions in which she helps children learn skills to better cope with the feelings and situations they’re experiencing.
Dr. Dinizulu often witnesses the difference that mental health services can have on all areas of a child’s life. “During treatment, I frequently evaluate how a child’s condition is affecting his or her overall social, emotional, behavioral and academic functioning to make sure we’re on the right path and that all of those areas are improving,” she says.
When significant behavioral changes occur, it’s important to seek help from a professional instead of assuming a child is going through a phase, she adds. “Issues are easier to treat when we intervene earlier,” she says.
CALL FOR AN APPOINTMENT
SAVE THE DATE
Meet Dr. Dinizulu at an evening seminar held at Little Company of Mary Hospital on August 11, 2016. Details to come!