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Carol Cecil; Resa Gonzalez - Youth Mental Health

Carol Cecil, KY Partnership for Families and Children, discusses behavioral health in kids
Season 14 Episode 5 Length 26:03 Premiere: 10/05/18

Helping Children with Behavioral Health Challenges

Even as a young child, Shawn Gonzalez seemed different. He was obsessed with numbers, he didn’t like clothes with seams in them, and he hated taking showers because the falling water hurt.

But other than some unusual behaviors, Shawn’s mother, Resa, says her son seemed to be developing normally. That is, until second grade.

“And then it was like we went off the rails for a bit,” she says.

Now an academically gifted 17-year old in Henry County, Shawn describes that period of his childhood as being in a dark place.

“I like to think of the time between kindergarten through second grade as I was losing myself,” he says. “I was always a happy kid, and then things started to wear at me, which is kind of weird to say when you’re not even out of elementary school.”

Shawn and Resa Gonzalez appeared on KET’s Connections to share their stories of living with mental and behavioral health challenges. The program also featured Carol Cecil, executive director of the Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children, a statewide support, training and advocacy group that works with families and caregivers of children with behavioral health issues.

’Where I Was Lost, I’ve Found Myself Again’
Shawn says he realized something was wrong the day his twin sister was named student of the month at their school. The second grader became so upset that he screamed, cried, and threw a desk over what he saw as the unfairness of her being selected over him.

He was first diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Resa says she initially resisted medicating Shawn, preferring to try therapy instead. But doctors eventually placed the boy on medications so intense that they had a “zombie-like effect” on Shawn.

Later examinations of Shawn found that he is bipolar and has obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as Asperger’s syndrome. He’s on about a third of the drugs he once took, and he’s also using nutritional supplements to help stabilize his behavior. Before, he couldn’t take out the trash without becoming locked in an endless mental loop of “what if” scenarios that stopped him from completing the task. Now, he simply says “I’ll try” and, more often than not, finishes the job.

“I feel like where I was lost, I’ve found myself again,” Shawn says.

Now Shawn is a top student: he’s captain of his school’s academic team, president of the Spanish Honors Society, and active in art club and journalism. He also scored a 28 on his ACT.

Shawn says learning happens differently for him, that his brain has to figure out how different things work together. He says that’s why math and science classes come so easily to him.

“I get in trouble at school because I don’t use calculators and I don’t show my work,” says Shawn. “I’ve been accused of cheating in every math class I’ve ever been in until they realize I’m just doing it [in my head].”

Even if academics are easy for Shawn, interpersonal relationships are still tricky. He struggles to understand social and emotional cues in others, and he says sarcasm is especially hard for him to detect. But over time, he’s forced himself to interact more with people so he can learn to feel comfortable in unfamiliar situations.

“I’ve been working my whole life to use the educational part of my brain to almost study humanity and be able to [teach] myself how to act, how to behave,” Shawn says.

Finding a Support System
The past 17 years haven’t been easy for Shawn’s mother, either.

“I didn’t come from a family where we understood mental disabilities or behavioral challenges,” says Resa Gonzalez. “We didn’t get it, we didn’t understand it, we didn’t know about it.”

She admits there were times when Shawn was at his worst and she had so little time to sleep or eat that she thought she might break down. What Resa needed, she says, was a support system.

“You have to have somebody that you can call in the middle of the night and say… I’m about ready to lose it,” she says. “And that other person is going to know exactly what you mean and not judge you for it.”

Resa found those people – her “tribe,” she calls them – in the Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children. The Frankfort-based organization works statewide to help families and caregivers of children with mental health and behavioral health issues.

“It is a family organization with families helping families,” says KPFC Executive Director Carol Cecil.

Cecil says many parents feel isolated because they don’t have anyone they can talk to about their situation. When they do share their experiences, Cecil says parents often feel blamed and second-guessed for having a child who has behavioral problems.

“If we spanked more, if we didn’t spank as much. If we disciplined more, if we didn’t discipline as much,” Cecil says. “If we were the perfect parent, they wouldn’t have bipolar disorder or ADHD, and that’s not how it works.”

KPFC offers a range of training programs – from parenting techniques, to navigating the health care and social service systems, to networking and advocacy skills. Already this year, Cecil says the organization has trained more than 200 adults, youth, and community providers. Even though mental health problems are discussed more openly than they once were, Cecil says there are still stigmas and misconceptions attached to the conditions.

“It’s not a choice,” she says. “A person’s brain changes because of trauma or because of how it’s made up to start with… You do have a disability, that’s okay. That’s not who you are, that is something you have and it doesn’t define you.”

Cecil raised two biological children and two special needs kids that she and her husband adopted. When they faced parenting challenges, Cecil says they had the advantage of their training, she in special education and he in social work. That got them wondering about all the parents who don’t have those backgrounds and face the challenges of raising a son or daughter with mental health issues.

“It’s our belief that once God gives you those tools, you’re expected to use them to help others,” Cecil says. “That’s what brought me to KPFC: I quit teaching full-time just to start helping other families learn how to advocate to get what their kids need.”

’You’re Going to Reach Great Places’
Since KPFC has helped her and her family, Resa Gonzalez decided she wants to help families who face similar challenges. She now works as part of the office support staff for the organization.

“Once I was secure in my knowledge,” Resa says, “I was able to teach the rest of us… Pay it forward, and be there for somebody else, which is what I try to do.”

Resa says ongoing therapy is helping her and her son strengthen their relationship. She says Shawn minds her 99.9 percent of the time, and his “blow-ups” now are very rare.

“We can get into some ugly places sometimes,” she Resa says. “We’ve learned to agree to disagree.”

“He is what he is, in all his glorious splendor,” she says.

Shawn says the therapy is helping him learn what he has to monitor and improve in his own behavior. When asked what advice he would offer his 6-year old self, his response is both realistic and hopeful.

“I know it’s going to be very tough, but trust me,” says Shawn. “Stick it out, keep moving forward, and you’re going to reach great places.”

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Host Doug Flynn stands outside smiling in a red shirt. A "Check Schedule" button is to the right.Host Doug Flynn stands outside smiling in a red shirt with his hands clasped. A "Check Schedule" button is to the right.

Season 14 Episodes

The 'I Was Here' Project

S14 E36 Length 27:42 Premiere Date 08/04/19

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler

S14 E35 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 07/28/19

Filmmaker Lynn Novick

S14 E33 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 07/14/19

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education

S14 E32 Length 27:37 Premiere Date 07/07/19

Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

S14 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 06/02/19

Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

S14 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 05/19/19

Dale Suttles - Sunrise Children's Services

S14 E28 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 05/12/19

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky

S14 E27 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 05/05/19

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform

S14 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/21/19

Jay Box - Ky. Community & Technical College System

S14 E24 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/14/19

Author and Life Coach Colene Elridge

S14 E23 Length 26:19 Premiere Date 04/07/19

FIRST STEP Act - Criminal Justice Reform

S14 E22 Length 27:44 Premiere Date 03/31/19

Cheryl A. Oldham

S14 E21 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 02/22/19

Linda Hampton - Early Childhood

S14 E20 Length 29:47 Premiere Date 02/15/19

Donald Mason

S14 E19 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 02/08/19

Community Action Council; First 5 Lex

S14 E18 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 02/01/19

Seamus Carey

S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 01/25/19

Michael Benson

S14 E16 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 01/18/19

Dr. Aaron Thompson

S14 E14 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 01/11/19

Mary Todd Lincoln and Lincoln Lexington Walking Tour

S14 E13 Length 28:55 Premiere Date 12/14/18

Youth Suicide

S14 E12 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 12/07/18

Jean Schumm and Amanda Gale

S14 E11 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/16/18

M. Christopher Brown II

S14 E10 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 11/09/18

Frank Harris

S14 E9 Length 25:17 Premiere Date 11/02/18

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S14 E8 Length 29:16 Premiere Date 10/26/18

Amy McGrath

S14 E7 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 10/19/18

Kevin Chapman - Youth Mental Health

S14 E6 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 10/12/18

Carol Cecil; Resa Gonzalez - Youth Mental Health

S14 E5 Length 26:03 Premiere Date 10/05/18

Joe Bargione - Youth Mental Health

S14 E4 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 09/28/18

WKU President Timothy Caboni

S14 E3 Length 28:40 Premiere Date 09/21/18

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

S14 E1 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 09/14/18

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  • Wednesday September 28, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 28, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 28, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Pellom McDaniels - S10 E30

  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kiley Lane Parker - S10 E29

  • Monday September 26, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 5:29 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 4:29 am CT on KETKY

David Adkins - The Council of State Governments - S18 E3

  • Sunday September 25, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 11:59 am ET on KET
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 10:59 am CT on KET

Kevin Chapman - S10 E28

  • Friday September 23, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kendell Nash - ECHO - S10 E27

  • Thursday September 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dorothy Edwards and Diane Fleet - S10 E26

  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Elaine Chao - S10 E23

  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 2:06 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 1:06 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Diabetes Epidemic - S10 E20

  • Monday September 19, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington - S18 E2

  • Sunday September 25, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 24, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 24, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Mary Gwen Wheeler, 55,000 Degrees - S10 E16

  • Friday September 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

15K Degrees Initiative - S10 E13

  • Thursday September 15, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sister Helen Prejean - S10 E12

  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court - S10 E11

  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bill Farmer - S10 E8

  • Monday September 12, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

State Treasurer Allison Ball - S18 E1

  • Sunday September 11, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Reporter Jonathan Bullington - S17 E23

  • Sunday September 18, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 17, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 17, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Diane Follingstad - UK Women's Circle Endowment Chair - S10 E6

  • Friday September 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kevin Chapman - S10 E5

  • Thursday September 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Soreyda Benedit Begley and Chris Begley - S10 E3

  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bloggers on Personal Development - S10 E2

  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Chris Rabb - S10 E1

  • Monday September 5, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Nikki Lanier - Harper Slade - S17 E22

  • Sunday September 11, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 10, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 10, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Delanor Manson - Kentucky Nurses Association - S17 E36

  • Sunday September 4, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

  • Friday September 2, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

  • Thursday September 1, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marta Miranda - S9 E43

  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Judi Jennings - S9 E42

  • Monday August 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 29, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Exploring Solutions to the Healthcare Worker Shortage - S17 E14

  • Sunday August 28, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
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