Since 1949, May has been recognized around the United States as Mental Health Month. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama called upon “citizens, government agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to raise mental health awareness and continue helping Americans live longer, healthier lives” in his official proclamation.
The focus for this year’s awareness campaign is the mental health of children and young people, which ties it in perfectly to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 5 through May 11.
Some key facts:
- · About one in five young people are affected by mental health issues.
- · Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in teens and the second-leading cause of death for college-age youth.
- · About 14% of children under age 5 have social, emotional, or behavioral problems.
- · One out of four youths will be bullied sometime during their adolescence, and one out of three have experienced cyber-bullying.
- · About 40% of children whose parents are divorced have more behavioral health problems than other children.
- · One in five Tennessee high school students say they drank alcohol before they were 13.
- · One in five Tennessee high school students say they took prescription drugs one or more times without a doctor’s prescription.
It is for reasons such as these that the theme for this year’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is “Out of the Shadows: Exposing Stigma.” By making it easier and more acceptable for people to talk about these kinds of issues, it will only help our children learn and grow so that they can live strong and productive lives.
With the spotlight shining brighter on the need for improved mental health care in our country, we must make sure that we educate people about children’s mental health issues and continue the work being done to eradicate scrutiny, discrimination, and repercussions that deter our children, youth, and families who are in need of care from seeking consistent help. Our goal is to keep mental health a part of national dialogue 365 days a year.