For the past seven years SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day) has celebrated the resilience of young people, especially those young people who have mental health challenges. This year we are also honoring the caring adults, the “Heroes of Hope,” who help these young people demonstrate resilience following traumatic experiences. “Heroes of Hope” help young people reach their full potential by maintaining a long-term, stable and positive relationship—the kind of relationship that improves a young person’s ability to find success at home, at school, and in their community.
On May 9, 2012, the national Awareness Day event will be held at Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C., at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The evening will feature young people in juvenile justice, child welfare, and education systems who have demonstrated resilience after experiencing a traumatic event. Awareness Day will also continue its focus on assisting military families enhance their resilience. The event will feature artistic performances made in tribute to the Heroes of Hope the young people identify. In addition, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will present a recognition award to Honorary Event Chair Cyndi Lauper for her work in helping youth who are homeless and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
How can you get involved in your local community? One way is through “Community Conversations,” which we are creating this year to bring people together to talk about children’s mental health. Many of these conversations will focus on issues of trauma and resilience. Using data and talking points provided at www.samhsa.gov/children, a conversation brings people together who may not have been involved in children’s mental health or substance abuse prevention efforts before. At the end of the conversation we are hoping that participants will pledge to become Heroes of Hope. This will help grow the network of caring adults in communities across the country.
To help communities across America get started in planning Awareness Day celebrations, SAMHSA is hosting a Twitter chat April 17 from 2–3 p.m. EDT. Co-hosted by the Surgeon General of the United States, Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., MBA, the Twitter chat is an opportunity to discuss Awareness Day 2012, better understand issues related to trauma and resilience in children and youth, and help facilitate Community Conversations.
Make sure to visit www.samhsa.gov/children for the latest Awareness Day information.