Parent List helps parents - and relies on them, too

Five years ago, Tara DeGeer's teenage son expressed concern about the well-being of his peers after the suicide of a local high school student. He worried about how others were doing with news of the student's death and that there could be copycat suicides.

In response, DeGeer created The Parent List, a Hinsdale Central PTO-supported online platform where parents may leave an anonymous positive review of a professional who was helpful to their child. The Parent List contains a comprehensive listing of largely local providers specializing in mental health, educational support and general medical issues. Doctors, therapists, support groups, inpatient and outpatient programs, tutors, nutritionists, books and holistic medical approaches may all be reviewed.

The goal of The Parent List is to streamline the process of and decrease the stress around connecting with a provider. It provides access to resources in our community that have already been used by a parent experiencing similar concerns. The list contains first-hand insight from D86, D181 and D63 parents about providers that helped address their child's anxiety, depression, school avoidance, stress, eating disorder, insomnia, peer relations, learning needs, ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum and more.

Much like Angie's List, The Parent List relies on consumer feedback. In order to keep the list up to date, several older reviews are due to be removed this school year. The Parent List is seeking more current reviews in all categories, particularly resources that support children with learning challenges due to the number of students currently engaging in some form of remote learning. Many reviews are from parents of teens since the list originated with the teen population; however, reviews from parents of elementary aged children are welcomed and needed. It takes only about five minutes to complete an anonymous review to add to the list.

Prior to the pandemic, our country was moving toward increasing awareness around the benefits of attending to one's mental and physical health. With the pandemic continuing to unfold alongside additional stressful current events, it seems our country is in the midst of needing a well-being check more than ever. If your family or your child is in need of support, embracing the idea that seeking help is not only all right, but a sign of strength and commitment to self-care. Consider getting help when concerns are beginning rather than waiting until they've become severe, which can feel much more crisis oriented and overwhelming.

If you are, or already have received help for your child, please consider leaving a review on The Parent List to benefit others. I will be co-chairing The Parent List this year. As a parent and mental health professional, it seems imperative to keep breathing life into this helpful resource with all we've collectively been through this year.

As a community, we can invest in our children doing well emotionally and physically. Let's keep The Parent List going and growing.

To view The Parent List or leave a review, go to Questions can be directed to [email protected].

- Alisa Messana of Hinsdale is a licensed clinical social worker and a mental health consultant.