By Joy Spencer, Policy and Research Assistant for the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. Their website features tons of resources and information about their efforts.
The first full week in May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week! Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is dedicated to increasing public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children’s mental health, emphasizing the importance of family and youth involvement and leadership in the mental health movement.
Children’s mental health matters. Emotional, behavioral, mental health and substance abuse needs cut across all income, educational, geographical, religious and other cultural groups. One in five young people have one or more emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenges. One in ten youth have challenges severe enough to impair how they function at home, school, or within the community.  And 80 percent of people who experience mental health or substance use challenges report onset before the age of 20.
Despite the prevalence of mental health challenges among young people, an estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of children and youth in need of mental health services do not receive them.  Unmet mental health needs may complicate daily activities and education for youth. Obtaining mental health supports and services helps develop resiliency and foster recovery. One of the best ways you can promote resiliency is through helping young people develop a better sense of self-efficacy. A strong sense of efficacy enhances human accomplishment and personal well-being in many ways. People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered, rather than as threats to be avoided.
Family-run organizations, such as the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, play a pivotal role in empowering youth and families. Family-run organizations are typically non-profit and comprise mostly of family members and caregivers of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs. The National Federation connects more than 100 family run organizations nationwide, allowing the youth and family voice to be heard at local, state, and national levels. Our experiences shape our passion and desire to help people. We understand that parenting a child with special needs may come with added challenges, and we feel it is crucial to offer resources and support to these families.
Join us as we promote children’s mental health and work to reduce stigma! We must help the young people in our communities succeed. They are our future.
Fulfilling our mission is possible: Children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs and their families can grow up healthy and maximize their potential! Together, we can transform mental health care in America!
 New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. (2003). Achieving thr promise: Transforming mental health care in America. Final Report (DHHS Pub. No. SMA-03-3832). Rockville,MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
 Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. (2007). Facts on Co-Occuring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorders in Children and Adolescents. http://bazelon.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=DUXu_DFQGjA%3D&tabid=247
 Kataoka, S.; Zhang, L.; & Wells, K. (2002). Unmet need for mental health care among U.S. children: Variation by ethnicity and insurance status. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(9), pp. 1548-155
 Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).