On National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, Advocates Campaign for Programs that Address Needs
Contacts: Steve Vetzner (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
Christine Armstrong (703) 312-7893 or email@example.com;
Andrea Barnes (240) 403-1901 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
Emily McKee (202) 467-5730 x 120 or email@example.com
WASHINGTON, D.C (May 6, 2010)-In honor of National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, advocates at a Congressional briefing today campaigned for programs that address the early mental health needs of children and adolescents.
One in five American children have a diagnosable mental health disorder and children in military families have an even higher incidence of emotional and behavioral problems. As a recent report pointed out, the country's system for children who need mental health services simply isn't sufficient to handle the volume or adequately meet the specific needs of this most vulnerable segment of our population.
Speakers addressed the importance and tremendous value of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant programs, with a particular focus on the Systems of Care, Safe Schools/Healthy Students and Project LAUNCH programs, and the benefits of early childhood programs.
They also highlighted the need for congressional support for the Mental Health in Schools Act, legislation that recognizes the partnership that must be established between schools and communities to ensure that children with mental health needs are identified and linked with effective services and supports.
The briefing was jointly hosted by the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health(National Federation), Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
Janice Cooper, Ph.D, Director of the National Center for Children in Poverty and author of Unclaimed Children Revisited noted that "preschool children face expulsion rates three times higher than children in kindergarten through 12th grade, due in part to lack of attention to social-emotional needs."
Avniel Serkin-Ahmed, a youth advocate, spoke of his experience. "When I was a toddler I received my first mental health diagnosis. Determined to make sure that I would have the best and most ‘normal' life possible, my mother fought hard to make sure that I received the supports, services and tests that I needed. My mother faced many unnecessary roadblocks throughout the years in order to ensure that I had the services that I needed at a very early age. Receiving these services at an early stage in my life set a great foundation and provided me with the tools that would need to be successful in my future."
Joy Kaufman, Ph.D, Lead Evaluator of the Building Blocks system of care site in Connecticut, and Kathryn Power, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), presented positive outcomes data from CMHS grant sites across the country. For example, "behavioral and emotional problems in young children ages eight and younger are reduced after receiving services and systems of care."
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. With our century of service to America and our more than 300 affiliates nationwide, we represent a national movement that promotes mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation- everyday and in times of crisis.