Children’s Mental Health
Awareness Day Gives Youth a Chance To Shine
Spoken word. Native American dance. Classical piano. At SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day celebration, more than 750 people enjoyed performances by eight young people who shared their stories of how performing arts are helping them thrive in the face of mental health issues.
The event brought together Federal policymakers, an Academy Award-winning actor, young celebrity co-hosts, and talented young people from SAMHSA-funded systems of care programs from Oregon to Pennsylvania.
“By holding events on a single day around the Nation, we call attention to the success of young people who have mental health challenges and their families who can flourish and thrive when given appropriate services and supports,” said A. Kathryn Power, M.Ed., Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.
The following performers were chosen after a two-step audition process, which started in their hometowns.
- Jasmine Flenoy, 14, Cleveland, OH, adores the full scope of the performing arts, including singing, dancing, poetry, and writing.
- Max Heath, 18, Los Angeles, CA, went to his first pow wow at age 6 and was immediately drawn to the forceful beat of the drum.
- Marquee James, 15, Pittsburgh, PA, finds that writing allows him to see that there are better ways to express his emotions than violence.
- Marquita Jones, 19, San Francisco, CA, hopes to create positive change in the world through her own voice and poetry.
- Mya Meriweather, 16, Pittsburgh, PA, hopes to encourage others to share their stories and use their words and talents to cope with life’s challenges.
- Eddie Ortiz, 17, The Dalles, OR, uses music to express himself and hopes to inspire other youth to do the same.
- Kristian Smith, 18, Los Angeles, CA, is proud and honored to share her culture through fancy shawl dancing, which she’s done for 8 years.
- Sam Stache, 17, Dubuque, IA, feels his love of performing is matched only by the happiness and contentment that playing the piano brings him.
See the performers in action by visiting our Photo Gallery.
SAMHSA’s Special Recognition Award was presented to Goldie Hawn (center). Center for Mental Health Services Director A. Kathryn Power (left) and Acting Administrator Eric B. Broderick (right) joined her for a photo. Ms. Hawn accepted the award for her work to increase public understanding of the role mental health plays in the total well-being of children and youth through her nonprofit foundation.
In addition to the youth performances, actor Goldie Hawn accepted the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award for her work to increase public understanding of the role mental health plays in the total well-being of youth.
Established in 2003, the Hawn Foundation supports work to teach children mindfulness-based techniques to help them gain an understanding of their own thoughts and feelings as well as the skills to respond in more healthy and responsible ways to today’s stressors.
More than 40 national education, health, and mental health organizations supported this year’s event, which was co-hosted by Solomon Trimble from Twilight and Sabrina Bryan from Disney’s The Cheetah Girls.
The Executive Planning Group comprised Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health.
For the first time, SAMHSA and the Mental Health Commission of Canada collaborated to raise awareness about children’s mental health. The observance offered an opportunity to focus attention on increasing access to services for children and youth with mental health needs and their families through community events and outreach to the public.
Learn more about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.