May Is National Mental Health Awareness Month

Curriculum Review, April 2016 | Go to article overview

May Is National Mental Health Awareness Month


It's a stark, sad reality but about one in five children ages 13 to 18 have or will have a mental illness, according to the latest statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an advocacy group. And suicide is the second leading cause of death of youth aged 10 to 24 (see signs of suicide in the Special Report of this issue of Curriculum Review).

Judging from these statistics alone, mental illness among children is a serious problem in America. Lack of adequate insurance coverage and too few specialists available can make the process that much tougher for children.

Still, much can be done to help students with mental illness, especially during the month of May--National Mental Health Awareness Month.

Early intervention is key: The consequences of some mental illness may even be prevented, according to Mental Health America, a community-based national nonprofit. At the very least, it is possible to delay mental illness and/or lessen symptoms in children.

Even if mental illness is advanced, it can be treated and most cases are ultimately helped.

Sources: nami.org; mentalhealthamerica.net; apb.org

Child Mental Health Resources

Parents and students need to know that mental disorders in children are treatable. Early identification, diagnosis and treatment help children reach their full potential. Encourage parents and students to talk to a doctor, mental health professional and/or visit one of the websites below to learn more.

* American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: www.aacap.org

* American Psychiatric Association: www.psych.org

* American Psychological Association: www.apa.org

* Center for Parents and Information Resources: www.parentcenterhub.org

* Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health: www.ffcmh.org

* Kids Mental Health Information Portal: www.kidsmentalhealth.org

* Mental Health America: www.mentalhealthamerica.net

* National Alliance on Mental Illness: www.nami.org

Sources: nami.org; mentalhealthamerica.org

What Teachers Can Do

* Think about mental health as an important component of a child being "ready to learn;" if a child is experiencing mental health problems, he or she will likely have trouble focusing in school. …

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