National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

by Underdue Support on May 7, 2012

May 9th is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA)! There are so many special “days” anymore, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of them all. But this day (and, in fact, the whole month) deserves our attention. This movement began in 1994 with the goal of “caring for every child’s mental health.” That’s a goal we can get behind anytime, but particularly if you look at the challenges facing children today.

In a nationally representative survey of 12- to 17-year-old youth and their trauma experiences, 39 percent reported witnessing violence, 17 percent reported physical assault, and 8 percent reported a lifetime prevalence of sexual assault. …. When looking at rates of exposure to traumatic events, a nationally representative survey reported that among 12- to 17-year-old youth, 39 percent reported witnessing violence, 17 percent reported physical assault, and 8 percent reported a lifetime prevalence of sexual assault. (SAMHSA).

When we think about statistics like these, our children’s mental health seems under significant attack. But the good news is there are things we an do to defeat those statistics and protect our children. Research also shows that children can have better outcomes, even when they experience trauma, when they have parents who are there for them, friends and community connections, and a chance to develop their own competencies. So as scary as the realities our children face, we can be the buffer that makes the difference.

The theme for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is “Heroes of Hope.” Here are some examples of those heroes.

The Native American Rehabilitation Association has created a Facebook page for their celebration of the event. Go here and take a look at their Warriors to protect against trauma.

Brad Meltzer is making his book, “Heroes for my Son” available online for this celebration. Take a moment and read it to your children.

Be a hero of hope! Here are some suggestions on how to do that. Even if you only have a minute, say something encouraging to a child you know. Even just say Thank you.

Below is a speech Brad Meltzer did for TED. It’s for all of us. Be a Hero of Hope today!

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