Children’s Mental Health Week
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.
The past year has been a difficult one for mental health. Parents reported an increase in their kids’ mental health symptoms as the pandemic persisted and everyone adjusted to “a new normal.” Paying close attention to children’s mental health is more important than ever.
Children’s Mental Health Week, celebrated May 2-8, is an annual event created by the National Federation of Families. They invite parents and children across the country to learn and talk about mental health through this year’s theme: “Flip the Script on Mental Health.”
The goals of Children’s Mental Health Week are to educate individuals and communities about the importance of teaching children and youth:
- That caring for their mental health is a vital part of living a healthy, fulfilling life.
- That experiencing mental health challenges is common and that it’s important to ask for help when they do.
- To offer acceptance, support and respect for others who have mental health challenges in their lives and communities.
How To Participate in Children’s Mental Health Week
There 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 Community
Raising 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 Themselves
Mental 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 Health
Mental 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 Resources
In 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
Nationwide, 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
If your child has turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with mental health concerns, Next Generation Village is here to help. Our teen-focused programs help adolescents focus on recovering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders in a calm, supportive environment. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for your teen.
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.