By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
On Sunday, October 12, Palisadians Robin and Bijan Armandpour are hosting a fundraiser dinner for the ABC program—designed to help children with their mental health needs.
The ABC program is a daily, six- to eight-week program at UCLA that helps children ages 6 to 12 who are experiencing disorders, such as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive and a wide range of neurodevelopmental delays.
“I’m really passionate about the work these people do,” Robin shared with the Palisadian-Post. “It’s critical to talk about these things when children are young and address them … even though we’re in 2019, there is still a lot of stigma about mental illness and we need to break down that stigma.”
According to a face-to-face study of 10,123 U.S. teens, almost 32% of teens suffer from anxiety and the median age it starts is 6; 19.1% have behavior disorders starting at age 11 and 14.3% have mood disorders beginning at 13, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.
The teen study concluded that “one in every four or five youth in the U.S. meets the criteria for a mental disorder with severe impairment across their lifetime.”
“We have a crisis in this country, the only way we can make a dent is to support mental health programs that work, and I believe that everything starts in childhood, so early and successful treatment is the only way,” Robin said, referring to reducing mass shootings.
“The reason I like the program is first of all, that it’s effective … In six to eight weeks, they estimate 60% of the symptoms in the child are gone … Then, they follow it up with once a week therapy.”
Robin shared that it is a holistic approach where not only the child is treated, but also the parents who might not know how to cope.
The ABC program runs out of the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA and helps approximately 100 children per year. The program is based on current evidence-based practices and the children are seen by a multidisciplinary treatment team.
Despite its importance, the ABC program struggles with a bare-bones budget.
“People think programs with UCLA are always well-funded and they are not … for this particular program it’s a very tight budget,” said Robin, who is trying to promote awareness and encourage donations.
With additional funding, more children could participate and the program could hire a postgraduate student to compile their findings over the past 10 years, including their successes, and publish it in medical journals to inform other child psychiatrists throughout the country.
The Armandpours are leading by example, with a large personal donation and hosting this fundraiser. The festive evening will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., with a dinner and presentations by program directors Drs. Tara Peris and Benjamin Schneider from the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the program.
Event info, sponsor information and online donations can be made at spark.ucla.edu/ABC.