The following content is created in consultation with SAMHSA. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington's editorial staff. To learn more about SAMHSA, visit samhsa.gov.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five children in the U.S. either currently or at some point in their lives has experienced a serious mental disorder. Research shows that about 50 percent of all mental illnesses that happen in adulthood emerge by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24.
Children, youth, and young adults who experience serious mental illness may great have difficulty with day-to-day interactions at home, at school, and in the community. Their families may encounter challenges including discrimination and difficulty accessing treatment services and supports. Despite these concerns, there is hope. On Thursday, May 10, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will observe National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2018. The purpose of Awareness Day is to increase public awareness to address the needs of children and youth with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their families, to offer information on evidence-based practices, and to encourage people to seek help who need it. For more information, go to samhsa.gov/children.
SAMHSA’s Awareness Day 2018 Washington, DC, event “Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma” will focus on ways to support the mental health needs of children, youth, and young adults who have experienced trauma. The event is free and open to the public.
Hosted by NBC4 Washington’s own Aaron Gilchrist, the national event will include a town hall discussion and feature insights from senior federal officials, youth and family leaders, executives from leading health care organizations, and governors’ spouses who are involved in supporting children’s mental health initiatives across the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II will present a SAMHSA Special Recognition Award to the governors’ spouses, as well as to the National Congress of American Indians for their work in promoting trauma-informed mental health services for children, youth, young adults, and their families.
You can make every day Awareness Day—on May 10 and beyond! Pledge to change minds with these easy but influential steps.
1. Attend SAMHSA’s Awareness Day 2018: “Partnering for Health and Hope” event.
The event takes place Thursday, May 10, at 7 p.m. EDT at The George Washington University Dorothy Marvin Betts Theatre, located at 800 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20052. Register for the event here. You can also view the live webcast.
2. Learn more about children’s mental health.
You and others in your community can be valuable allies to children, youth, and young adults. Allies can be anyone—parents, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, health care professionals, faith leaders, and friends. Whether it’s listening, mentoring, providing resources, or just showing a child that someone cares, people in your neighbor or community can be #HeroesofHope in support of children’s mental health. Visit www.samhsa.gov/children and check out SAMHSA’s web-based video program to learn more.
3. Start a conversation.
Talk with your friends, parents, children, and family about what mental health means and the importance of mental wellness. Opening the conversation without judgment is a great way to share information and strategies to support children’s mental health. For materials most suitable for youth and family education, click here.
Use your social media accounts to promote events, conversations, data, initiatives, and graphics that encourage education about children’s mental health. Include links, images, and a call to action. Be sure to use the #HeroesofHope hashtag when discussing Awareness Day or children’s mental health on social media.
5. Visit an exhibit.
The "I am a Work of Art" digital art exhibition, in collaboration with the American Art Therapy Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Head Start, and Youth M.O.V.E. National, invited young artists to showcase their interpretation of the exhibit's title. The exhibit celebrates the importance of creativity in children’s mental health and can be found online.
Spread the word about the importance of “Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health,” and become one of our #HeroesofHope.