Thursday, February 25, 2010

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: May 6, 2010

"An estimated 4.5 to 6.3 million children and youth in the United States face mental health challenges. About two thirds do not receive needed mental health services due to the high costs and limited availability of services in many communities. Families are challenged
with obtaining services, and youth are left at risk for difficulties in school and/or the community." -SAMHSA

The following information is from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day) is a day for everyone to promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Awareness Day raises awareness of effective programs for children's mental health needs; demonstrates how children's mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities.

On Thursday, May 6, 2010, Awareness Day will mark its 5th anniversary, as well as a first-time focus on the topic of early childhood. Communities across the country will observe the day with events, youth demonstrations, and social networking campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and increase understanding of the mental health needs of children and their families.

Awareness Day efforts will encourage the following actions:

  • Integrate mental health into every environment that impacts child development from birth
  • Nurture the social and emotional well-being of children from birth
  • Look for and discuss milestones of a child's social and emotional development from birth.
The following publication provides information about ways systems of care can improve situations for youth who experience mental health difficulties.  Students who receive appropriate support have a lower rate of repeating a grade in school or dropping out of school. Suicide attempts decrease, and emotional and behavioral functioning improves. Students who receive support also show an improvement in attendance and grades. Youth who are at the highest level of academic risk make strong gains.


The SAMHSA website has a wealth of information and statistics regarding mental health, children, and youth.

There are plenty of ways to prevent serious emotional-behavioral problems from increasing.
Maurice Elias, the director of the Social-Emotional Learning Lab at Rutgers, has quite a bit to say about this topic and how schools can help.  He shares his wisdom via his blog on the Edutopia website.  Here are links to some of his posts:

Giving Visibility to Students with Emotional-Behavioral Challenges
Advocating for Social and Emotional Learning at Your School
Use Music to Develop Kids' Skills and Character

School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs (pdf)

No comments: