It is difficult to imagine, but even very young children can experience trauma that has a long-term impact on their mental and behavioral health. Research shows that when exposed to traumatic events such as witnessing violence or natural disasters, children as young as 18 months can develop serious psychological problems later in life. You might wonder how you can help get the word out about young children and trauma. SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2011 provides an ideal opportunity to participate in local events to raise awareness about the importance of positive social emotional development from birth. This year, Awareness Day is on May 3, 2011.
Last year, children, parents and other supporters participated in Awareness Day events in more than 1,000 communities across the country. This year, more than 100 Federal agencies and national organizations have agreed to support Awareness Day, and the number of local events continues to rise.
Awareness Day is now part of SAMHSA’s overall strategy to raise awareness that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth. This year’s national theme is “Building Resilience In Young Children Dealing with Trauma.” A national event in Washington, DC, complements and supports the work going in local communities. The message is simple – it is important to integrate mental health support and services into every environment that affects child development from birth in order to nurture the social and emotional well-being of children.
To learn more about how to participate in Awareness Day or to organize an activity in your community, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/children/ or email AwarenessDay2011@vancomm.com.