National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 2014

Two girls smiling

Thursday, May 8 is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day! The theme for 2014 is Inspiring Resilience, Creating Hope. The focus is on the behavioral, emotional, and mental health needs of young adults, as well as strategies for early identification and support.

The Office of Head Start (OHS) is dedicated to ensuring high-quality services to both children and families. Early identification and support for behavioral, emotional, and mental health needs have a positive impact on very young children. Strengthening the mental well-being of parents and families also leads to improved outcomes for their children. Therefore, an important goal for OHS is supporting mental health and wellness throughout Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Local programs offer a wide variety of supports and resources throughout the year to promote resilience among the children and families they serve.

On Thursday, May 8, OHS and many other federal and national organizations are partnering with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to celebrate this event. Communities across the country will observe Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. Head Start and Early Head Start programs are encouraged to get involved with local activities.

Review Early Head Start Tip Sheet No. 47: What is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day? How might Head Start programs serving infants and toddlers participate and use this day to support the mental health of infants, toddlers, and families year-round? to learn about Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. It includes the benefits of participating in local events and questions to consider when planning your own. Share your organization's plans by filling out the Pledge Form [PDF, 173KB].

Families face daily challenges that cause stress and depression. The new Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation toolkit provides tips to decrease adult stress levels and help address depression. Children also experience stress. Check out the "My 1st Year Baby Book" and "Discovering Feelings" booklets to help very young children begin to identify and express feelings. Also read Tips to Promote Social-Emotional Health Among Young Children [PDF, 153KB] for more suggestions that parents, child care providers, and pediatricians can use with the children in their care.

Mental health consultants play a pivotal role in early identification and support for the behavioral, emotional, and mental health needs of children and families. Finding a Mental Health Provider for Children and Families in Your Early Head Start or Head Start Program provides guidance on identifying providers and ideas for overcoming access barriers. Facilitating a Referral for Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Within Early Head Start and Head Start identifies ways to help children and families find the additional supports they need to thrive.