Today is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
Good mental health is essential to our well-being, especially for the youngest among us whose healthy development is vital to a successful future. Sadly, many children in Texas suffer from mental health problems. That is why today has been declared Children's Mental Health Awareness Day in Texas, and this year there is a particular focus on children, youth, and young adults who have experienced trauma.
According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, one out of five Texas children have a diagnosable mental health need. But unfortunately, not every child receives mental health services. This could be due to a lack of knowledge about what services are available, it could be due to difficulties accessing services, or because of the perceived stigma of receiving mental health care.
And here in Texas, the problem of children’s mental health was worsened when Hurricane Harvey hit, due to the unimaginable trauma this massive storm inflicted on millions of Texans. According to the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, 1.4 million children, in more than 200 school districts, were impacted by Harvey. Undoubtedly, their need for mental health care services is high. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, research indicated there would be dramatic spikes in the rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses among children, and that the effects could be significant and lasting – for some, up to two years after the storm. And sadly, the younger the Texan, the worse it could be.
Recognizing the toll that the storm would take on the mental well-being of Texas schoolchildren, Greg quickly assembled the Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports, which is a partnership between the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Health and Human Services Commission, and The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.
This Task Force, coupled with today’s awareness campaign, shows that here in Texas and across the entire United States, we are working to end the stigma and provide more resources and support systems so that children and families know the importance of seeking help.
To locate resources and information that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has on mental health and children’s mental health in particular, visit https://mentalhealthtx.org/. Additionally, you can visit https://www.samhsa.gov/children/awareness-day to see what is being done nationwide, including what many of my fellow First Spouses are doing to raise awareness about children’s mental health in their states.
Together we can be #HeroesofHope for all of our children.