Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

By Mike Fitzpatrick, NAMI Executive Director

NAMI joined with others this week on Tuesday, May 3, to celebrate National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. This day is dedicated to all the young lives that have been impacted by mental, emotional or behavioral health challenges. It provides the perfect opportunity to come together to rally behind these youth and to advocate for a full array of effective services and supports that give hope to our youngest citizens.

Mental health issues impact large numbers of youth but fortunately, with early identification and intervention, they are treatable. We all play a role in ensuring this happens-whether by providing information, support, guidance or simply, hope.

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is an important reminder of what we can do to improve the health and well-being of the next generation. This year, numerous events and activities were undertaken to raise awareness, including:
  • A briefing on Capitol Hill that focused on the importance of early identification and intervention for children living with mental illness. The briefing also focused on two pieces of federal legislation that provide support to schools to better address the needs of students living with mental illness- theMental Health in Schools Act (HR 751), which would provide federal funding to increase and improve school-based mental health services and supports and the Achievement Through Prevention Act (S. 541), which would increase the implementation of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports to improve student academic achievement.
  • NAMI state organizations and local affiliates around the country took advantage of the tools NAMI developed for National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day by securing proclamations from state and local officials to honor the day and by engaging in a variety of other local activities to help educate and inform the public about children's mental health.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health joined in the celebration with a Research Panel Videocast and with a series of resources on their website related to children.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration organized a touching evening event that opened with a youth art exhibit at the Shakespeare Theatre and continued with a tribute to youth who have experienced trauma in their childhood. The event focused on building resilience in young children dealing with trauma.

Although we honor Children's Mental Health Awareness Day the first week of May every year, the resources NAMI developed can be used any day of the year to educate and inform the public about children's mental health.

Research shows that 50 percent of mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24, so we now know that mental illness strikes early in life. The more we raise awareness about mental health, the more that we can eradicate stigma and link children living with mental illness with effective services and supports. The more that we can do this, the more we can change the course of young lives for the better.


david said...

The facts about how many of the menatl illnesses that we have defined as of today start betwqeen the ages of 14 and 24 is very intiguging. I believe that it is our duty to do all the research we can as to why the onset is at these specific ages and work on not onle the medication regiment which can aliviate the symptoms of mental illnes long enought to also insert non medical therapeutic treatments as well where both the medication, and the therapuetic technique work together, in a osteaopathic whole body approach to our disease. I hope you would read my article entitled " Delusions: Where do they come from" whcih can be found at, which takes a fresh look at trauma and how it effects us at the eary stages of life. As a nami member myself how it has helped me, hads inspired me to help others.

Amber said...

I can't help but to think that substance abuse and mental illness occurring at a young age are tied together. That substance abuse is leading to some of this mental illness in young people. Between the ages of 14-24 is when people start experimenting with drugs. So many young people are addicted to prescription medications. Then when they are no longer available to them they go into a doctor and get prescribed a prescription of there own, that they can then become relying on. I think we need to focus on more natural ways to control some anxiety, depression, and ADD.

Anonymous said...

As a grandmother of a 14 year old who was diagnosed at age 6 with early onset bipolar disorder, it is great to hear that finally the medical community and society in general are realizing and acknowledging that mental illnesses are not limited to adults. Now if we could just the school system on board.......