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Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
Today is National Child Mental Health Awareness Day. This year the focus is on "Building Resilience for Young Children Dealing with Trauma." Each year this national observance helps raise awareness that positive mental health is essential for a child's healthy development.
The Indian Health Service has collaborated with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Administration for Children and Families, and other federal agencies in promoting National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.
Traumatic events that contribute to mental distress in children include interpersonal violence, natural disasters, child maltreatment, and witnessing violence toward others. In 2009, researchers found that more than 60 percent of youth age 17 and younger were either directly or indirectly exposed to crime, violence, and abuse. This includes witnessing a violent act, assault with a weapon, sexual victimization, child abuse, bullying, and dating violence.
Although children may seem resilient, exposure to traumatic events can lead to short- term and long-term effects on behavioral and physiological health. Children exposed to trauma may manifest a variety of behaviors and clinical conditions such as alcohol/substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, conduct disorder, and chronic health conditions.
To help children in our communities, it is important that support and treatment is provided by family members, community members, teachers, and healthcare providers. We all can make a difference in reducing the harmful effects of child trauma and in helping our children to recover, heal, and move forward in life.
For more information on Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.