This week, May 6-11, is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and this Thursday, May 9, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day – an appropriate time to ask important questions about mental health and your family.
Mental Health Awareness Day 2013 focuses on the importance of social connectedness – a sense of community – in enhancing resilience in young adults ages 16 to 24 with mental health and substance use challenges, while Mental Health Awareness Week seeks to increase public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children's mental health and the importance of family and youth involvement in the children's mental health movement.
The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, spearheading Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, links more than 120 chapters and organizations focused on the issues of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs and their families.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at the center of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services.
Both of these organizations provide support and information to families to help them identify, cope with, and find treatment for children with mental health issues.
How big a problem is children's mental health?
- About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18 according to the National Comorbidity Survey.
- About eight percent of teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder, but only 18 percent received mental health care for their condition.
- One in every 110 children has autism, with boys facing nearly five times higher risk than girls.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – one of the most common childhood disorders – affects an estimated nine percent of 13 to 18-year-olds in the US. The National Comorbidity Survey revealed that an estimated 2.7 percent of 13 to 18-year-olds in the United States struggle with severe eating disorders, such bulimia nervosa , anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorders.
As these statistics reveal, SANHSA and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health have an important mission and a legitimate need for promoting children's mental health awareness.
Are my child's problems serious?
- Problems across a variety of settings, such as at school, at home, or with peers
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Social withdrawal, or fearful behavior toward things your child normally is not afraid of
- Unexplained loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Returning to behaviors more common in younger children, such as bed-wetting, for a long time
- Signs of being upset, such as sadness or tearfulness
- Signs of self-destructive behavior, such as head-banging, or a tendency to get hurt often
- Repeated thoughts of death
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness lacking a concrete reason
- Unexplained and abnormally extreme fearfulness
- Frequent anger and other overreactions
Information on children’s mental health
- Get answers to frequently asked questions about the treatment of mental disorders in children at NIMH · Treatment of Children with Mental Illness.
- Find Children's Mental Health Awareness Week events in your area.
- Download the The National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week Activity Book for 2013, which helps you include even the youngest children in your home or community in Awareness Week activities. The activity book is primarily for those under the age of six, but includes an Awareness Week Word Find game that older kids will enjoy too.
- Learn about children’s mental health awareness from NIMH.
- Get the American Art Therapy Association Tip Sheet, showing an affordable, accessible way for all children to learn and feel good about themselves.
- Check out the American Music Therapy Association Tip Sheet, on how to use music with children to nurture attachment, to calm when words cannot, and offer an outlet for coping with emotions.