Sometimes we make jokes about our mental health, but serious mental illness is a real problem among young people in this country. Did you know that an estimated 4.5 to 6.3 million youth in the United States face mental health challenges? These might be about substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, compulsive behavior, and other mental health issues, including suicide. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of them do NOT receive the mental health services they need (like counseling and medicine) because it costs too much or they don’t know where to find help.
We need to fix this problem. First of all, studies show that students who need and receive mental health services are more likely to stay in school. This is important because about 11% of high school youth with emotional challenges drop out before finishing high school and are 1.6 times more likely to be unemployed than high school graduates who are not enrolled in college. Secondly, mental health problems can affect many other areas of life–especially social relationships.
This is why SBB is writing about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, being celebrated May 3. Communities all over the country will be holding events to show how important it is for kids to have good mental health, just like having good physical health. The many activities include programs using the theme “My Feelings are a Work of Art.” Think about that—so how would you draw the way you feel? It’s good to be aware of your feelings and how they affect your behavior and the decisions you make.
Find out how you can get involved and help by checking out http://www.samhsa.gov/children/preparing_for_awarenessday.asp.
As always, keep yourself healthy. If you or a friend are having a hard time coping with everyday life, ask an adult you trust for help. Catching problems early can avoid worse ones later on.
The death of Whitney Houston left America wondering about the emotional well-being of her daughter Bobbi Kristina after such a sudden, serious trauma. Traumatic events can affect your mental health and lead to serious problems later in life. This holds true even if the trauma happens at an early age—as young as 18 months old!
Traumatic experiences can include a number of things, such as the death of a loved one, a car crash, or a natural disaster like a hurricane. Trauma also can result from experiences that take place over a long time, like having a parent with a drug addiction, or experiencing bullying or family violence. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, so it can be hard to know who may need professional help to cope.
The good news is that—with help from families, teachers, counselors, and the community—young people can get well.
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
On National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day—May 9, 2012—communities and organizations across the country will help people understand how important it is to take care of children’s mental health. People will share the message that, with the help of caring adults, young people can recover from traumatic experiences and lead full and productive lives.
How Trauma Affects the Brain
Studies on how young people respond to stress show structural changes in the brain that, for some, can lead to problems like depression, anxiety, aggression, acting out, and drug abuse.
Hear Real Stories On May 9, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. eastern time, you can watch a Webcast at samhsa.gov/children about young people who have successfully recovered from a traumatic event. They will be accompanied by their “Hero of Hope”—the person who has supported them through their challenges.
You can participate by commenting on Facebook and tweeting during the Webcast using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.
Help Raise Awareness
A youth group in North Carolina is planning a “flash mob” for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Last year, we suggested drawing your emotions on paper to increase awareness of your feelings and how they affect your behavior. What are some other ideas to help raise awareness about the importance of your mental health?
Today, communities and organizations across the country will help people understand how important it is to take care of children’s mental health. This year’s focus is on helping children recover from traumatic experiences. Learn more about the observance and the effects of trauma on the brain by reading our previous post, Mental Health and Young People.
Attend an Awareness Day Event
More than 1,000 communities in the United States are celebrating National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day by hosting interactive events for children and adults. Here is just a sampling of the activities planned:
Delaware. Delaware’s B.E.S.T. for Young Children and Their Families will host its 8th annual “Get the Scoop on Mental Health.” Participants will learn about children’s mental health and get a free scoop of Italian ice at participating Rita’s Water Ice locations.
Michigan. American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan has planned several activities that include poetry and storytelling “open mic,” healthy cooking demonstrations, green smoothies, face painting, an art table with beading, bouncy house, Native musical chairs, and a play area for younger kids.
Texas. Hand in Hand is partnering with a Fort Worth high school program in which at-risk high school art students and local college graduates develop murals for walls that have been targets for graffiti. The mural theme is “Play Matters 4 Children’s Mental Health.”
Virginia. The Virginia Art Therapy Association is hosting "Heroes of Hope" at the Children's Museum of Richmond. The event will include a Q&A panel discussion for parents and caregivers, art making, and the “Heroes of Hope” exhibit of art by children and teens ages 4–18.
Find a National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event near you!
Watch Heroes of Hope
If you are unable to attend an event in person, you can participate by watching a tribute program about children and teens who have recovered from traumatic experiences, as well as the parents and caregivers—their Heroes of Hope—who helped them get well. Live performances by youth from around the country will also honor these Heroes of Hope.
Watch the live webcast from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. eastern time. You can participate by commenting on Facebook and tweeting during the webcast using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.