There are many days set aside to mark important moments and causes.  The first week of May has been designated “Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week” by the National Federation of Families with the theme “Mental Health Is a Family Affair”.

I want us to consider a different perspective, that of one that embraces every day as both children’s and family’s mental health awareness day.  In both my clinical practice and in my community work, I have tirelessly advocated for a positive approach and understanding to mental health.  It is one of the most important things we can do for our children, families and communities.

More than 1 in 7 American children have a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder according to the CDC.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescence.    Sadly, nearly 2/3 of those with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment.

A recent study indicated that prevalence of mental health issues varies widely across the country.   Our proximity to the Boston medical community and resources gives us a progressive approach to early identification, intervention and referral, all of which are vital factors in treatment and lessening the potential long term impact of mental health issues.

We must continue strengthening our efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.  YHC has been dedicated to creating open dialog and conversation about depression, anxiety and other mental health topics.  We have offered educational programs to youth, educators, parents.  We have fostered community coalitions to help develop community based initiatives for both mental health and substance use.  Our peer training, “How Not To Keep A Secret” represents the essence of stigma reduction through knowledge, being open to ask for help, and access to a trusted connected adult.