Children’s Mental Health Matters

 

The Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore (MHAES) is a non-profit organization that promotes mental wellness and behavioral health with education and advocacy. Monthly articles, written by authorities on their topics, will cover a variety of subjects in Attraction magazine. This month’s article is provided by Jackie Davis, MHAES Executive Director, and a Community Champion for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, May 6 through 12.

As we are all reeling from yet another horrific school shooting, we need to pay more attention to the mental health of our children throughout their growing years. Mental health is how we think, feel and act. It affects how a child thinks about himself/herself, relates to other children and adults, and handles change, stress and other life situations. As many as one in five children experience a mental, emotional, or behavioral health problem before the age of 18, yet 70% percent of school aged children with a diagnosable mental illness never receive treatment.

All the more reason that we make an effort to educate ourselves because our Children’s Mental Health Matters. It’s easy to know your child needs help dealing with a fever or a broken bone, but mental health problems can be harder to identify. You may be surprised to learn that: one in five children experience a diagnosable mental health disorder each year, yet only 20% are identified and receive treatment; 1 in 9 youth aged 13 to 18 experience a substance use disorder, yet only 7% receive services. The tricky part of parenting is knowing the kinds of behaviors and moods that are usual for the stage of development your child is in – and when your child needs help.

Every year, the Mental Health Association of Maryland and the Maryland Coalition of Families with support from the Maryland Department of Health – Behavioral Health Administration conducts the Children’s Mental Health Matters campaign. The goal, with Community and School Champions across the state, is to raise awareness of the importance of children’s mental health, and to connect parents and community members with resources.

This year, Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Maryland is celebrated May 6 through 12. Visit www.childrensmentalhealthmatters.org to learn more or to get involved in the campaign. At this website, learn what to do if your child needs help, where to go for help, or how to access a wealth of free children’s mental health resources. Locally, one may also contact the Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore (MHAES) at 410-822-0444 or www.mhamdes.org. MHAES is always available to help guide anyone to the information and resources needed.

MHAES reaches individuals in all nine (Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester) counties with programs including Mental Health First Aid, Healthy New Moms, a public education campaign, a School-Based Mental Health Coalition, The Shore Training Collaborative, an Early Learning Series, a Veterans Assistance Program, a Distinguished Speakers Program and Screening Programs. Visit www.mhamdes.org or on Facebook at Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore. 

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Allison Downes

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Attraction July 2017 Cover