SAMHSA’s Awareness Day shines a national spotlight on the importance of caring for every child’s mental health.
About National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
SAMHSA created National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day) more than a decade ago to shine a national spotlight on the importance of caring for every child’s mental health and to reinforce the message that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development.
The purpose of Awareness Day is to increase public awareness about the needs of children with serious mental illness (SMI) and severe emotional disturbance (SED) and their families, provide information on evidence-based practices, and encourage those who need help to seek treatment.
More than 1,100 communities and 170 national collaborating organizations and federal programs across the country participate in community events, youth educational programs, health fairs, art exhibits, and social networking campaigns in observance of Awareness Day. Each year, SAMHSA hosts an event in Washington, DC, to complements these local activities.
In 2005, SAMHSA hosted the first Awareness Day event in Washington, DC, in response to requests by systems of care grantees that indicated that a national observance would amplify and support the work they were doing at the community level. Awareness Day began as a grassroots effort among SAMHSA-funded systems of care and has expanded to include other federal programs and national organizations.
Since its inception, Awareness Day has served as SAMHSA’s key strategy to:
- Raise awareness of the efficacy of community-based mental health and substance use services for children, youth, young adults, and their families;
- Demonstrate how children’s mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and
- Show how children, youth, and young adults with mental and/or substance use disorders can flourish in their communities.
Over the years, Awareness Day has grown in scope, visibility, and support. The event in Washington, DC, connects cross-disciplinary organizations in their efforts to promote awareness of children’s mental and substance use disorders not just on a single day, but year-round. As a result of Awareness Day, organizations at the national level and in communities have developed relationships that have led to new collaborations and strengthened existing ones, creating greater opportunities for the long-term sustainability of their programs.
SAMHSA will continue to support community involvement in Awareness Day in 2019. Community-level Awareness Day observances are opportunities for children, youth, young adults, families, child-serving agencies, faith-based organizations, community leaders, and others to come together to focus on relevant topics related to children’s mental health.
SAMHSA’s Awareness Day 2019 event, “Suicide Prevention: Strategies That Work,” took place on May 6. Watch the archived webcast!