National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day Activities, May 2011
Project LAUNCH sites throughout the country were buzzing with activities on and around May 3, celebrating National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Collectively, you demonstrated that the mental health of young children is essential to overall health and the prosperity of our families and communities. Proclamations and press conferences involving governors and mayors reached elected officials and media; webinar series and conferences on young children’s mental health issues reached health providers, child care staff, and other professionals; award ceremonies recognized outstanding leadership and advocacy; and resource fairs, museum nights, and recreation events reached children, their families, and other caregivers. Taken together, these events shouted the message that positive mental health is essential to overall health and can and must be nurtured.
The California state team developed an electronic resource kit to distribute to the Statewide Screening Collaborative and all Part C/Early Intervention specialists to share with their agencies and stakeholders throughout the state.
The kit includes a number of ideas, resources, and links. For example:
- Share information about early childhood mental health resources within your agency (materials for professionals and families are available at http://projectabcla.org/resources/materials.php)
- Reproduce the My Feelings Activity Book (available at http://projectabcla.org/resources/materials.php) for early care and education classrooms and create opportunities to read the book with children
- Share the Children Thrive Best handout (PDF, 63 KB) with parents
- Send a news release to your local media to generate awareness
In Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley signed a proclamation that declared May 3, 2011, as Mental Health Awareness Day. In celebration, Illinois Project LAUNCH teamed up with the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership to host an all-day fair titled Hope and Health All Around Us. The event linked several local child service organizations with families across the community. Families learned more about the importance of children’s mental health and had conversations with professionals in the field of child development. Pediatrician Dr. Clavier from Centro de Salud Esperanza and child psychologist Dr. Doss from Habilitative Systems Inc. spoke with families about monitoring child development and recognizing behavioral issues early. Families also took part in several artistic activities at the Teatro Americano, a local children’s theater. More than 300 brochures and materials were distributed to continue to strengthen the connection between families and local community agencies that promote children’s health and wellness.
- Awareness Day Newsletter (PDF, 635 KB)
- Registration Card, Spanish & English (PDF, 358 KB)
- Welcome Flyer for Parents (PDF, 561 KB)
Iowa Project LAUNCH held its second annual webinar series, which attracted 150 participants on topics such as the integration of behavioral health into primary care, caregiver depression, and mental health issues among immigrant populations (Awareness Day events Flyer, PDF, 137 KB). A Polk County event, Do More Outdoors!, offered art activities and literature and encouraged physical activity through an interpretative walk, geocaching, a bike rodeo, a bike helmet give-away, bike tune-ups, and bike safety programs. Other events throughout the state included special conferences and workshops. In addition, Governor Brandstad signed a proclamation recognizing April 28 as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) partnered with the YMCA of Greater Boston to add an early childhood mental health awareness component—“Mental Health Matters: Every Child, Every Neighborhood” (PDF, 155 KB)—to the YMCA’s annual “Healthy Kids Day” attended by hundreds of families. At the Oak Square YMCA in Brighton, BPHC staff and partners staffed information tables to provide parents and caregivers with information and activities to help promote healthy social and emotional development in children from birth. At the Roxbury YMCA, BPHC also staffed an information table and had professionals demonstrating activities that parents and caregivers can use to promote healthy social and emotional development in children from birth, such as young children’s yoga, music therapy, infant massage, African doll making, and family games. (See www.boston.com/yourtown/news/roxbury/2011/05/free_healthy_kids_day_set_f... for more information.) The overarching theme of each event was supporting young children’s mental health by fostering their resilience and attachment to caring adults. This was the first time that the YMCA included a mental health component in its Healthy Kids Day, and BPHC and the Y are looking forward to continuing this partnership in the future.
On May 21, BPHC hosted “Girl’s Night Out—Mental Health Matters: Let’s Talk” (PDF, 3 MB) with Liz Walker, a local journalist and television personality, and special guest Massachusetts First Lady Diane Patrick. This event was held in the Codman Square, Dorchester, neighborhood of Boston and aims to address maternal depression and its relationship with parenting and healthy child development.
- Mental Health Awareness Day Newsletter (PDF, 189 KB)
Michigan Project LAUNCH and the Parent Committee served on the planning committee at the state and local (Saginaw) levels. Several communities throughout Michigan set up activities in schools. For example, in Saginaw, Jessie Loomis Elementary and Saginaw High School invited students and parents to participate in a walk to promote mental health awareness. Association for Children’s Mental Health members set up table displays for students and distributed written materials. Representatives from local mental health agencies spoke at an assembly for the students and parents. Project LAUNCH Michigan distributed calendars with social-emotional messages, social-emotional guidebooks, and social-emotional developmental wheels.
- Social-Emotional Health and School Readiness Guide (PDF, 937 KB)
- Social-Emotional One-page Fact Sheet (PDF, 170 KB)
- Watch Me Grow Calendar Sample (PDF, 112 KB)
- Social and Emotional Wheels Order Form (PDF, 1 MB)
Multnomah Education Service District, Portland, Oregon
Children, families, professionals, and community partners descended on the State Capitol steps in Portland to hear the proclamation written by the Governor, John Kitzhaber, declaring May 3 as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. That same day, three state representatives talked about the importance of prevention and awareness, trauma-informed services, and the need to ensure stable funding for early childhood education and preventive services for all children.
Multnomah Project LAUNCH’s second event introduced SAMHSA’s “My Feelings are a Work of Art” activity to more 300 students in kindergarten through grade 3 from two public schools. This activity also included a discussion with students on various social and emotional health topics, such as self-awareness and stress management, with the hope that students would use these skills to prevent bullying and other conflicts within the school setting.
Governor Susana Martinez issued a proclamation declaring May 3, 2011, “New Mexico Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.” On that day, New Mexico Project LAUNCH hosted an open webinar, drawing participants from around the state to a presentation on Adverse Childhood Events (PDF, 376 KB), delivered by Anna Marie Garcia, a member of the state-level Council on Young Child Wellness and director of the Family Infant Toddler Program for Las Cumbres Community Services in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe LAUNCH invited people to a brown-bag lunch on May 3 at the Family Health Bureau to watch a videocast titled “Connect the Dots: Understanding Children’s Mental Health,” created by the National Institute of Mental Health. Information is posted on the Web site: www.earlychildhoodnm.com.
New York State
Leaders in New York State held a press conference and a meeting titled “What’s Great in Our State—Celebrating Children’s Mental Health” (PDF, 47 KB) (http://readme.readmedia.com/Whats-Great-in-Our-State-Celebrate-Childrens...). The annual event honors children, families, and providers who emulate the core values of The Children’s Plan: Improving the Social and Emotional Well-Being of New York’s Children and Their Families (www.ccf.state.ny.us/Initiatives/EngageHome.htm). Project LAUNCH exemplifies these principles, and the state values its collaboration with the local LAUNCH site in Westchester County as the groups work together to promote early identification and intervention.
On May 3, the Ohio Federation for Children’s Mental Health and the Ohio Department of Mental Health co-sponsored a Resiliency Ring at the Ohio Statehouse, featuring musical entertainment by youth and presentations by youth, families, and state administrative and legislative leaders. In the afternoon, families met with their state legislators to provide information and encourage legislators to support increased funding for children’s mental health services.
Rhode Island has developed a regional strategy for the Awareness Day and Prevent Child Abuse RI campaigns through four statewide Family Care Community Partnerships (FCCP). This collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse RI ensures sustainability for both campaigns. The FCCP’s are funded by RI’s Child Welfare agency for children at risk. Using a “wraparound” process, the FCCPs encourage the community-based service providers, family members, and friends to work together. FCCPs also include parents on their campaign planning committees. Regional activities include an evening at the Children’s Museum in Providence, offering free admission, dinner, a brief presentation on “The Importance of Playing with Your Child,” and calendars with parenting tips. A family festival on May 14 at the University of Rhode Island, featured visual and performing arts, ethnic dance troops, theatre, musicians, and storytellers. Families participated in expressive movement, face painting, and drum circles and visited a gallery of children’s art work. Educational materials for children and their families were disseminated by local vendors and at a resource fair. Another region is sponsoring a Child Abuse Prevention and Children’s Mental Health Summit in June and has purchased advertising from a local television station.
Wheeler Clinic, New Britain, Connecticut
Wheeler Clinic Project LAUNCH engaged in Art Action activities in New Britain kindergarten and preschool classrooms on Tuesday, May 3, which was attended by 42 children. They enjoyed listening to When Sophie Gets Angry…Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang and engaged in a discussion about how artists use feelings to create their work. Children viewed works by Monet and Picasso and discussed how they think the artists felt when creating the art and how the art makes them feel when they see it. The children then created their own works of art that will be part of the display “My Feelings are a Work of Art!” at the New Britain Museum of American Art the week of May 9. All children who created art received museum passes so that they can view the display with their families.
Wheeler Clinic Project LAUNCH also partnered with two other mental health agencies serving children and families in New Britain, Community Mental Health Affiliates and Klingberg Family Center, to provide a parent event for 25 parents and caregivers on Monday, May 9, “Promoting Social Emotional Health for Young Children” and a Family Wellness Resource Fair.
Wisconsin Project LAUNCH led a coalition of state and community partners to create and disseminate materials for community outreach and education on children's mental health.
These were received by hundreds of professionals throughout the state. The group also held a press conference in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Day attended by approximately 60 leaders.