Celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2010
Promoting the Importance of Mental Health Starting at Birth
By Meredith Hogan Pond
Sherri Shepherd of ABC’s “The View,” child-development pioneer T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., and an expert panel joined SAMHSA to celebrate the fifth anniversary of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on May 6 in Washington, DC. SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., presented Dr. Brazelton with a special recognition award. (See Dr. T. Berry Brazelton Shares His Vision.)
Visit an extensive gallery of photos from Awareness Day events, including the evening’s Early Childhood Forum.
“Awareness Day spotlights the importance of promoting positive social and emotional development in children and the need for early identification of mental health challenges,” said Lisa Rubenstein, Project Officer for Awareness Day and a public health advisor at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).
This year’s celebration focused on the importance of promoting children’s mental health from birth. More than 80 public and private collaborating organizations and Federal programs and agencies joined SAMHSA for the event. New supporters included the Office of Head Start at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Nationwide, more than 1,000 community-based mental health service and support providers, programs, schools, and collaborating organization affiliates also celebrated this annual observance. Youth rallies and social media campaigns marked the day, along with art activities for children to raise awareness about mental health.
A “big tent” celebration of visual art, music, and dance by local 5-year-olds energized Awareness Day’s afternoon events, as 50 children, accompanied by their parents and caregivers, expressed themselves to the theme “My Feelings Are a Work of Art.”
As tambourines jingled and drums tapped along, the children twirled and jumped to the beat under red, yellow, blue, and green fabrics floating in the air. Other children focused on their crayons, paints, and drawings-in-progress. With all the children intent on their creations, these exercises demonstrated how the arts can nurture social development.
Displays of the local children’s art work filled the foyer of the evening’s Awareness Day Forum and reception.
Across the Nation, children expressing their feelings through art received national attention on Awareness Day. Caregivers at 800 Head Start sites, military bases, child care programs, local museums, and children’s mental health programs helped children in preschool through 3rd grade create paintings or drawings to spark conversations between adults and young children about their feelings.
For the evening event, an Awareness Day Early Childhood Forum featured presentations by Administrator Hyde and Dr. Joan Lombardi from the Administration for Children and Families at HHS.
Hosted by Ann Pleshette Murphy, parenting contributor on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the two discussion panels included Ms. Shepherd in her role as “celebrity-parent” (Jeffrey’s mom), as well as family, child development, and early childhood mental health experts. They explained why positive social and emotional development in children as early as birth is essential to overall healthy development.
Along with SAMHSA’s Dr. Larke Huang and A. Kathryn Power, M.Ed., Director of the Center for Mental Health Services, the panels included:
- Dr. Janice Cooper, National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University
- Dr. Lynette Fraga, Zero to Three
- Dr. Walter Gilliam, the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University
- Dr. Mary Louise Hemmeter, Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University
- Dr. Judith Romano, representing the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Dr. Ross Thompson, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis
- Dr. Albert Zachik, Child and Adolescent Services, Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
In addition to events on Awareness Day, SAMHSA released a report, Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Young Children and Their Families, which describes the academic, social, and emotional performance outcomes of children age 8 and younger receiving services in systems of care.
For details, see Report on Young Children.
Find out more about Awareness Day.