Use Your Brave and Help Spread Awareness!
By Carmen Lynas, Ph.D.
Anxiety disorders affect 18% of the population, making it the most common mental illness in the US. We can all relate to feeling anxious - it is part of the human experience. An anxiety disorder, however, can stop one from acheiving one's goals and having a fulfilling life. Many have heard of anxiety disorders such as social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but few know about selective mutism. I am consistently reminded of this when, at a social gathering or professional networking event, I am asked, "what do you do?" and my response "I treat selective mutism, have you heard of it?" is usually followed by "no, what's that?"
I'm always excited to talk about selective mutism, especially when I am letting someone know about it for the first time. But I decided I need to do more, WE need to do more. Selective mutism affects 1 of 140 children, and many of whom go untreated, increasing the risk for developing other mental health disorders.
Children with selective mutism are chatterboxes at home, but fall mute in school and public settings. These are kids who may take center stage at home, but when out in public or when others come to their house, they become uncharacteristically mute. These are kids who like to lead and they posess incredible determination - but when in school, they become reticent, mute, and a follower instead of a leader (that is, if they are not avoiding their peers altogether).
Treating selective mutism means stepping out of one's comfort zone. Not just the child's comfort zone, but the family's, school's, friends', and therapists' comfort zones. There are many times we've all shied away from something that felt too intimidating (I can recall countless times that I have). Let's show our support for children, families, and adults who are facing their fears - let's all use our brave and share in our experiences! When you do something out of your comfort zone, share it via twitter with #UseYourBrave. Add #selectivemutism and help spread the word about SM. Hopefully we can generate curiosity about selective mutism and bring more visibility to this otherwise unrecognized disorder.
Have you used your brave today? Tweet me @DrLynas!