Children's mental health matters
Bay Times - 3/28/2018
As we are all reeling from yet another horrific school shooting, we need to pay more attention to the mental health of our children throughout their growing years. Mental health is how we think, feel and act. It affects how a child thinks about himself/herself, relates to other children and adults, and handles change, stress and other life situations. As many as 1 in 5 children experience a mental, emotional or behavioral health problem before the age of 18, yet 70 percent of school-aged children with a diagnosable mental illness never receive treatment.
All the more reason that we make an effort to educate ourselves because our children's mental health matters! It's easy to know your child needs help dealing with a fever or a broken bone, but mental health problems can be harder to identify.
You may be surprised to learn that: 1 in 5 children experience a diagnosable mental health disorder each year, yet only 20 percent are identified and receive treatment; and 1 in 9 youth aged 13 to 18 experience a substance use disorder, yet only 7 percent receive services.
The tricky part of parenting is knowing the kinds of behaviors and moods that are usual for the stage of development your child is in - and when your child needs help.
Every year, the Mental Health Association of Maryland and the Maryland Coalition of Families, with support from the Maryland Department of Health?Behavioral Health Administration, conducts the Children's Mental Health Matters campaign. The goal, with community and school champions across the state, is to raise awareness of the importance of children's mental health, and to connect parents and community members with resources.
This year, Children's Mental Health Awareness Week in Maryland is celebrated May 6 to 12. Please visit www.childrensmentalhealthmatters.org to learn more or to get involved in the campaign. At this website, you can also learn what to do if your child needs help, where to go for help, or how to access a wealth of free children's mental health resources. Locally, you may also contact the Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore at 410-822-0444 or on their website at www.mhamdes.org. MHAES is always available to help guide you to the information and resources you may need.
The Mental Health Association of The Eastern Shore provides mental health first aid, Healthy New Moms, a public education campaign, a school-based mental health coalition, the Shore Training Collaborative, an early learning series, a veterans assistance program, a distinguished speakers program and screening programs. Check them out online at www.mhamdes.org or on Facebook at Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore.
Jackie Davis is executive director of the Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore.