• The therapy SharePosts will resume after this break as my editor wanted me to write to the topic of children's mental health as part of the overall focus on this topic in May-Mental Health Awareness Month.

    May 2 - 8, 2010 is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week.

    The theme for this year's Awareness Week is Promoting Positive Mental Health from Birth to Adulthood.

    The National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health would like to send out the following messages:

    • Mental health is essential to overall health and well being.
    • Serious emotional and mental health disorders in children and youth are real and treatable.

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    • Children and youth with mental health challenges and their families deserve access to services and supports that are family driven, youth guided and culturally appropriate.
    • Values of acceptance, dignity and social inclusion should be promoted throughout all communities for children, youth and families.
    • Family and youth voice is a valued asset in determining appropriate services and interventions.

    On Thursday, May 6th the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health will celebrate the fifth anniversary of National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day) in conjunction with SAMHSA.


    The national event is designed to do three key things: raise awareness of effective programs for children's mental health needs; demonstrate how children's mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery and resilience; and show how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities.

    The Awareness Day initiative is comprised of the following three activities:

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    My Feelings Are a Work of Art Action

    This will be a child-centered activity using the theme "My Feelings Are a Work of Art." Communities across America will lead kids in preschool through 3rd grade in art activities such as painting or drawing. The intent is to initiate conversations between adults and young children about having and expressing feelings.

    When I Grow Up Youth Action

    This will be an opportunity for youth older than 8 years old to become mental health advocates and raise awareness about the mental health needs of children and youth throughout the United States.


    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 Awareness day national celebration will consist primarily of two events held on May 6, 2010 in Washington D.C.:

    The Awareness Day Turns 5 Celebration where young children from local daycare centers and their parents and caregivers will participate. Children will be able to express their feelings through music, dance and the visual arts. Though the kids will express their feelings through art the activity is not designed to be an art therapy program.

  • The event will take place from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Caroline Lyders, anchor and reporter with ABC 7/WJLA-TV will serve as host.

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    The Awareness Day Early Childhood Forum at 7 p.m. takes place in the Amphitheatre of the Ronald Reagan Building. The free event will consist of two 45-minute panels focusing on promoting positive social-emotional development and what to do when problems arise. Ann Pleshette Murphy, parent contributor to ABC's "Good Morning America" and former editor-in-chief for Parenting magazine will moderate.

    Earlier in 2011: I will revisit this event and give a time line so that you and others in your community can partner with your own daycare centers and agencies that work with parents and children.

    Promoting positive mental health from birth to adulthood is just plain common sense because everything else blossoms from the seed of emotional well being.

    I was always a quirky kid who preferred to be left to my own devices. I read books and wrote poetry and kept a journal from the time I was young. These were coping techniques I used to feel better about my own challenges feeling different.


    In middle school I was taunted and teased-the loaded word to describe this would be called bullying-and at that time my mother took me to a shrink because she was worried: I wore the same pair of hole-y jeans everywhere-even on holidays-and I wasn't showering and didn't take an interest in joining the rest of the family in the living room to watch TV at night.

    Sure: this was the evolution of something that started much earlier. When I was five years old the girls across the street were cruel to me. My parents fought all the time and this upset me greatly. Had my mother access to appropriate services and supports in her own life things might have been different for all of us.

    I cannot put too fine a point on it that environment is a trigger for schizophrenia.

    Optimal mental health begins the moment two people conceive a child and as soon as that child is born it is critical that they be provided with the services and supports they need should their child develop mental health issues early in life.

    There could be a double whammy at play: the parents don't want to seek help for fear doing so will scar their kid for life and brand the child with a label she will carry for the rest of her life.

    To that I say: nothing good comes from doing nothing. Mental illnesses will not cure themselves and the sooner a parent gets the right help for their son or daughter the better the outcome will be.

    So right now I stand in solidarity with the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health. They are doing a great job to promote these initiatives and next year I will personally contact them to ask how I can get the word out so they can reach more people.

    There is no shame in having a broken brain. I hope I have motivated even one parent to seek help for their kid. For every season there is a time. Now it is a time to heal.


Published On: May 03, 2010