Childrens Mental Health Awareness Day

By Szafran, Kathy F. | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), May 3, 2017 | Go to article overview

Childrens Mental Health Awareness Day


Szafran, Kathy F., The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


Thursday is Childrens Mental Health Awareness Day, a national day organized through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to focus on integrating behavioral health and primary care for young people. The future of West Virginia depends on the health of the states children. We need to have a generation of kids who are physically and emotionally healthy, ready to learn in school and join the workforce, productive and skilled. That is a tall order for kids growing up in a state with the highest rate of overdose death in the country, where shrinking populations create isolation and basic needs go unmet.

Studies show a definite link between early childhood adversity (called ACEs) and future health outcomes. Kids who grow up with abuse, neglect and household chaos have a higher risk of smoking, alcoholism, drug use, depression, suicide, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, stroke and cancer.

The outcomes arent just about bad behavior. Advanced imaging technology illustrates structural brain development deficits in children who grow up in adverse environments.

There is plenty of data to indicate that West Virginias kids are growing up with adversity go online, search for national data on any indicator of child well-being by state. Look for West Virginia ... keep scrolling down. The challenges seem overwhelming. Wearisome, even insurmountable.

To tackle the challenges, we have to be resilient. Resiliency is what keeps us able to survive and adapt, what keeps us strong and flexible to meet the needs of our states children.

Resiliency is what we strive to build in our kids so that they can be successful and healthy, in spite of the hardships they are facing.

Resilient kids are able to work, play, love and hope well. How do we build resiliency in kids? By providing connection, consistency and safety. Those are the basics that guide the work of bringing up capable kids. …

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