You may have brought the dark, but together we will shine a light.
Students of Parkland High School wrote these lyrics to their song, “Shine,” in response to the violence that took the lives of their classmates and teachers in February. These lyrics remind us that mass violence affects not only those who are killed or physically injured, but those who are traumatized by losing loved ones or by witnessing violence. However, the lyrics also remind us that we can heal from trauma.
At SAMHSA, we recognize that healing from trauma experienced during childhood is critical to our mission of reducing the impact of mental illness and substance use on America’s communities. The theme of this year’s annual National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday, May 10, is Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma. More than 1,100 communities and 170 national organizations will join us as we work to prevent school violence and other forms of trauma while promoting the supports and treatment needed for a child’s healthy development.
As part of Awareness Day, SAMHSA will be hosting a town hall where you will have the opportunity to ask questions, through social media or email, to experts on children’s mental health and trauma. Mental health and primary care providers, as well as family and youth leaders, will answer questions from the audience and will share evidence-based strategies. Trauma is a serious challenge but one that we can meet through prevention, treatment, and other interventions. This town hall will take place on Thursday, May 10, at 7pm EDT in Washington, DC and will also be webcast. To learn more about how you can join either in person or virtually, click here.
Every day, SAMHSA works with families, schools and educational agencies through our school and campus mental health initiatives. Programs such as the Children’s Mental Health Initiative, Mental Health Awareness Training Grants, the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative, and Project AWARE grants to state educational agencies help to train school personnel and other adults, and connect youths and their families to services.
SAMHSA also is contributing to the new Federal Commission on School Safety, comprising the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Education, and Homeland Security. Part of the Commission’s charge is to improve access to mental health treatment. The Commission will examine ways to raise awareness about mental illness, the need to integrate behavioral health services into our schools, and the effectiveness of treatment and community recovery supports.
Adverse childhood experiences can contribute to mental illness and substance use disorders throughout the lifespan. They are not limited to high-profile tragedies, but also include experiencing and witnessing verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. At SAMHSA, we support interventions that begin in infancy and early childhood, help prevent trauma, and support healthy development. Together, we can shine a light of hope on the path to healing. So, please join us on May 10.