SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Cyndi Lauper, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius celebrated National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 2012
Dance, spoken word, and musical youth performances made in tribute to "Heroes of Hope" set the tone for an evening of celebration and reflection on Wednesday, May 9, for SAMHSA's seventh annual National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. Grammy and Emmy award-winning artist Cyndi Lauper served as honorary chairperson of the program, which took place at Washington, DC's Lisner Auditorium. Youth in child welfare, juvenile justice systems, and military families were honored for demonstrating resilience despite having experienced a traumatic event. The youth recognized their Heroes of Hope, the caring adults who are helping them reach their full potential.
Cyndi Lauper celebrated with youth, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, and SAMHSA Public Health Advisor Jorielle Brown.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented a SAMHSA Special Recognition Award to Ms. Lauper for her work in helping homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth through her foundation, the True Colors Fund. "Homeless gay and transgender youth face unique challenges, like family rejection," said Ms. Lauper. "They inspire me with their honesty and bravery to do all that I can to help them overcome their adversities and succeed in life."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske; SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.; Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner Bryan Samuels; and Joint Surgeon General of the National Guard Bureau Major General Joseph K. Martin, Jr., also participated in the program.
"Children and youth experience trauma that can have a significant impact on their emotional and behavioral health," says Administrator Hyde. "With the support of caring adults in the family or community, these children can build resilience and lead full and productive lives." Data from the newly released SAMHSA report, Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems (PDF - 2.4 MB), indicates that having continuing relationships with supportive adults increased positive outcomes among youth ages 11 and older who had no such adults in their lives before entering services through the Children's Mental Health Initiative (CMHI).1 (See Figure 2.)
Also in celebration of Awareness Day, SAMHSA released Identifying Mental Health and Substance Use Problems of Children and Adolescents: A Guide for Child-Serving Organizations (PDF - 3 MB). The guide provides information on early identification of children and adolescents with mental health and substance use problems specific to a number of child-serving settings.
More than 1,100 communities and 130 federal and national organizations joined SAMHSA in celebrating Awareness Day. Many SAMHSA Systems of Care grantees hosted "Community Conversations" to discuss children's mental health and encourage adults to become Heroes of Hope. For more information and to view the webcast of the event, visit www.samhsa.gov/children.
Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS)—Oklahoma Systems of Care (OKSOC) sponsored a public service announcement (PSA) video contest to increase awareness by creating positive conversations about children's mental health in the community. In addition to the contest, the OKSOC sponsored a picnic at the State Capitol to celebrate children, youth, and families. The event's theme was "Life: Play It Well, Get On Board." More than 400 families enjoyed food, games, a family training, and were provided the opportunity to connect with 57 family and youth support service organizations. Terri White, Commissioner of ODMHSAS, stated the picnic was "about impacting families and linking them to the myriad treatment services, educational opportunities, and support systems that they can access. It is more than just an awareness event; although, public awareness and understanding regarding the magnitude of these issues is vitally important". Celebrations of National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day continued through the funding of two local OKSOC communities for a "My Feelings Are a Work of Art" project.
"Life: Play It Well, Get On Board" was the theme of the Oklahoma Systems of Care Community Picnic.
The tribal systems of care community of Tiwahe Glu Kini Pi (Bringing the Family Back to Life) sponsored a local community event for behavioral health professionals for Awareness Day featuring Dr. Dee Bigfoot, a Native American who specializes in trauma-informed therapy. Dr. Bigfoot presented one lecture for the adult population of the community and a second for mental health professionals and service providers. Tiwahe Glu Kini Pi also created an art therapy event for youth in grades K8 themed "Who is Your Hero?," as well as an art contest for youth grades 9 - 12 with building resilience in the face of trauma as the theme. "The number one possession of any Lakota family is a child," stated Cultural Coordinator and elder from the Lakota community Albert White Hat Sr. "The child must be protected and nourished at all costs."
Tiwahe Glu Kini Pi created an art therapy event for youth in grades K8 themed "Who is Your Hero?," as well as an art contest for youth grades 912 with building resilience in the face of trauma as the theme.
The New Mexico System of Care held various events in recognition of Awareness Day. In Albuquerque, the community sponsored a "Youth Jam" event developed for youth, by youth, and presented the first-ever "Community Choice Award," where they honored adults making a difference in a child's life. In Grant County, the system of care partnered with local youth to create a fun scavenger hunt for youth to learn more about local resources. In addition, the youth developed Awareness Day placemats that were distributed in schools and area restaurants. In Santa Clara Pueblo, students (grades K-6) participated in Awareness Day educational activities, including art projects and puppet shows. "It is good that the communities understand the importance of children's mental health awareness since it's something that you can't always see," says Linda Roebuck Homer, CEO of New Mexico's Behavioral Health Collaborative. "We have children and families who are struggling, and you can never underestimate the value of support and awareness."
Art placemat contest winner from Grant County New Mexico. The placemat was used by area schools and restaurants in recognition of Awareness Day.
1 Findings are based upon data collected through 2011 by the national evaluation of System of Care communities funded from 2005 to 2008.