Over a decade ago Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This was done to bring to the national forefront the importance of caring for every child’s mental health. Events during this week reinforce the message that positive mental health is essential for a child’s healthy development.
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week, May 3–9, is a time to raise public awareness about the challenges and causes important to children's behavioral health, and to highlight the importance of positive mental health from birth. The purpose of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is to increase public awareness about the needs of children with serious mental illness (SMI) and severe emotional disturbance (SED) and their families, provide information on evidence-based practices, and encourage those who need help to seek treatment.
During the week, over 1,100 communities and 170 national collaborating organizations and federal programs across the country collectively participate in community events, youth educational programs, health fairs, art exhibits, and social networking campaigns.
Since its inception, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week has served as SAMHSA’s key strategy to:
- Raise awareness of the efficacy of community-based mental health and substance use services for children, youth, young adults, and their families;
- Exhibit how children’s mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and
- Show how children, youth, and young adults with mental and/or substance use disorders can flourish in their communities.
Through the years, Awareness Week has grown in scope, visibility, and support. As a result, organizations at a national level and communities have developed relationships that have led to new collaborations and strengthened existing ones, creating greater opportunities for the long-term sustainability of their programs.
Helping Children During COVID-19
Fear and anxiety about a disease can cause overwhelming and strong emotions in adults and children. It is important to understand that children look up to adults for guidance on how to react in stressful situations. During such times it is common for children to seek more attachment and be more demanding on parents. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) suggest the following measures to help keep children as ease:
- Stay calm, listen and reassure your child/children that adults are there to keep them healthy or take care of them if they fall sick.
- Monitor what you watch and how you react to news related to COVID-19. Take a break from watching the news all the time and execute some fun activities with your family.
- Be honest and accurate. Children have strong imagination and can often imagine situations worse than reality; therefore, offer age appropriate facts to reduce fear.