Seeking help for children with mental health and behavioral issues

One local family shares their struggle

Posted: 10:14 PM EST Feb 25, 2014   Updated: 8:19 PM EST Feb 26, 2014
Seeking help for children with mental health behavioral is

Mental health and behavioral issues in children are realities facing million of homes across the United States.

It can be an overwhelming challenge for the entire family.

A local mother is choosing to get help for her kids and is encouraging other parents to do the same.

"It's been difficult raising four children on my own. They were very young when their father left," said Zeyna Ahmed of Wilson, Northampton County.

Her children are older now but the family's challenges continue.

"Sometimes when you're living with someone who has mental health issues, it affects, of course it affects everybody else in the household and if they're not happy, pretty much everyone around them is not going to be happy," Ahmed told 69 News.

Between her three daughters and one son, Ahmed says they've battled different mental health and behavioral issues.

"All four suffered from depression at one point after their father left," she said.

Her son Mustafa was 14 when 69 News first visited the family in August.

"I feel I have weight on my chest because you have more siblings, usually the brother is supposed to take care of them. I have two younger sisters so it's more like I have to watch over them," said Mustafa.

Depending on the day, he said he can feel a range of emotions.

"I'll be upset, sad, depressed, angry, frustrated," he added. "My therapist has helped me a lot and I believe he's a good therapist."

That therapist is John O'Reilly with Progressions. He comes to the family's home.

"I spend a lot of time rapport-building, getting, developing trust," O'Reilly said. "What my job probably does the most is empower the parents. I always just tell people, 'I'm a guest in your home.'"

"I felt the family's really progressed. Mom's become much stronger as a mother," said O'Reilly, who has worked with Ahmed's children for several years.

Ahmed said, "They definitely have progressed over the years, they've grown, they've learned to trust, definitely having a male therapist has helped them because they had issues with males."

"I'm improving very well," said Mustafa.

Ahmed wants other parents who have similar struggles with their children to know their situation is something they don't have to go through alone and help is out there.

"If something just doesn't seem right, get it checked out," she encouraged. "You wouldn't want them to go around with cancer growing in them. Don't let them suffer."

Tune into 69 News Wednesday at 10 p.m. for an update on how Ahmed and her children are doing now, six months after we first met them, and to learn more about Progressions, an organization that has helped them.