How can you contribute to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week?

childrens mental health awarenessThe National Federation of Families recognizes May as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The purpose of the awareness events is to support children with behavioral health challenges, debunk myths, spread awareness and promote positive mental health for all children. Mental health is important to overall health. Mental disorders are chronic health conditions that can continue through the lifespan. Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with mental disorders can have problems at home, in school, and in forming friendships. This can also interfere with their healthy development, and these problems can continue into adulthood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data shows that approximately 13 –20 percent of children living in the United States (up to 1 out of 5 children) experience a mental disorder in a given year. Data collected from a variety of data sources between the years 2005-2011 show:

Children aged 3-17 years currently had:

• ADHD (6.8%)
• Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
• Anxiety (3.0%)
• Depression (2.1%)
• Autism spectrum disorders (1.1%)
• Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)

Adolescents aged 12–17 years had:

• Illicit drug use disorder in the past year (4.7%)
• Alcohol use disorder in the past year (4.2%)
• Cigarette dependence in the past month (2.8%)

How can you contribute to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week?

• Read our newsletter: How to help children & adolescents with behavioral health problems
Pediatricians should include screening for mental health concerns
• Help children access treatment options for mental health concerns