Children’s Mental Health WeekWritten by: Melissa Lyon Edited by: Melissa Carmona
Millions of children struggle with their mental health each year, and the annual Children’s Mental Health Week seeks to raise awareness in a variety of ways.
It’s been a difficult year for children and teens throughout the United States. Graduations, birthday parties, school and gathering with friends became nearly impossible due to the ongoing pandemic. According to a survey by The Recovery Village, The feelings of stress and isolation have resulted in a sharp rise in mental health concerns among adolescents. Fortunately, from February 1–7, the spotlight turns to children’s mental health.
Children’s Mental Health Week is an annual event that began in 2015. After everything that occurred in 2020, the week may be more important than ever. Place2Be — the creator of the event — aims to raise awareness about young people’s mental health. They invite parents and children across the country to learn about mental health and practice self-care through this year’s theme: Express Yourself.
How To Participate in Children’s Mental Health WeekThere are many different ways to participate in Children’s Mental Health Week, and they all help promote the same thing: awareness of adolescent mental health. Half of all mental illnesses begin before the age of 14, and many teens with mental health disorders turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. For these reasons, it’s important to know about resources that can help treat mental health symptoms before they lead to negative outcomes.
Here are some simple but effective ways you can participate in Children’s Mental Health Week, raise awareness and share life-saving resources.
Raise Awareness in Your CommunityRaising awareness can help people better understand mental health and what to do if their children are struggling. Some ways to do so include:
- Engaging with social media campaigns and using appropriate hashtags, such as #childrensmentalhealth or #mentalhealthawareness
- Sharing helpful blog posts and links to resources
- Reaching out to parents whose children may be struggling with mental health
- Letting friends and family know about resources for children’s mental health
- Hosting community discussions or events about mental health within the community, such as at school, church or work
- Creating or sharing essays, music, short films, poetry or music about mental health
- Making a Facebook group for parents to discuss and share resources about mental health
- Livestreaming or live-tweeting an event during Children’s Mental Health Week
Tips on How Children and Teens Can Express ThemselvesMental health can be difficult to talk about, but children can express themselves in many ways when they experience difficult feelings and emotions. Some creative ways you can help your child explore and address those feelings include:
- Journaling or blogging about their emotions and experiences (if they have a website, make sure to monitor it or make it private so they are safe from predators)
- Creating through photography, writing stories or poetry, painting, cooking, sculpting with clay, dancing, singing, making movies or playing an instrument
- Exercising to blow off steam — yoga, weightlifting or jogging can be done at home or outdoors
- Talking about mental health with peers, friends and family members
Protecting and Nurturing Your Child’s Mental HealthMental health is governed by both genetic and environmental factors, meaning that even if you are a perfect parent, your child can still struggle with mental health symptoms. Though these struggles may be unavoidable, you can take action to ensure their struggles are effectively addressed. This can include:
- Fostering a caring, supportive environment at home
- Having open conversations with your children about mental health
- Letting your children know they can come to you with problems
- Acting as a positive role model and leading by example
- Praising positive behavior and providing guidance when they misbehave or act out
- Encouraging children to be creative and try new things
- Getting exercise and eating well as a family
- Sharing coping techniques that help you personally when you’re experiencing stress, anxiety or negative feelings
- Keeping a semblance of structure and routine in place for your family
- Sharing experiences of when you were struggling and needed help
- Having a plan of what you’ll do if your child shows symptoms of poor mental health
- Finding ways to help your child socialize with friends during the pandemic
- Limiting screen time to reduce exposure to social media and news, which can easily affect mental health
Local and State ResourcesIn Florida, helpful resources and services for children’s mental health include:
- Next Generation Village
- Greater Orlando National Association on Mental Illness
- Florida Department of Children and Families
- University of South Florida
- Florida Health
National ResourcesNationwide, parents can access helpful mental health resources from:
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
- Kids Mental Health Informational Portal
- Children’s Mental Health Network
- Kids Health
- Zero to Three
- National Institute of Mental Health
Place2Be. “About the Week.” 2021. Accessed January 15, 2021.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.