Speaking Up About National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week

Parents has had an ongoing partnership with Child Mind Institute, and we applaud its efforts to end the stigma associated with children's mental health issues—and to help make sure that all children get the treatment they need. As part of its annual Speak Up For Kids Campaign, the Child Mind Institute Mental Health Report was released today, and it contains the latest, most reliable information about the scope of children's mental health in America. These are just some of the powerful statistics:

  • 17 million young people have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.
  • 40% percent of kids with ADHD aren't getting treatment.
  • 60% of kids with depression aren't getting treatment.
  • 80% of kids with an anxiety disorder aren't getting treatment.

"The numbers are staggering," says Parents advisor Harold Koplewicz, M.D., president of Child Mind Institute. "Mental illness is the common disorder of childhood and adolescence—it's more common than asthma, peanut allergies, or diabetes—and 22% of kids have serious, debilitating symptoms. It is time for us to start a new conversation about this."

Dr. Koplewicz is particularly concerned about anxiety disorders, and age 6 is the median age of onset. "When it's not treated, anxiety can prime the brain for depression in adolescence and adulthood."  The article in our May issue, "Anxious All The Time," offers practical and reassuring advice, and Child Mind Institute has a comprehensive guide to finding good care for all types of mental illness.

Child Mind Institute is also honoring the winners of its Change Maker Awards, which celebrate leaders, organizations, and local heroes that are creating change in children's mental health. Parents readers had been invited to submit nominations for the last two awards.

The Champion Award: Congressman Tim Murphy, Ph.D. A clinical psychologist from Pennsylvania, he recently unveiled his landmark mental health reform legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

The Activist Award: First Lady Chirlane McCray of New York City. She was inspired by her own daughter's past struggles to dedicate herself to mental health advocacy and help make sure that young people are connected to the services they need.

The Corporate Advocate Award: Bloomingdales, led by CEO Tony Spring. The retailer took a stance on mental health at a time when few organizations were speaking up about it, and raised funds by selling limited-edition special products.

The Community Builder Award: Active Minds. Founded by Alison Malmon, who lost her brother to suicide, the organization raises awareness about mental health issues at colleges across the country.

The Local Hero Award: Angela Renz, LCSW. A social worker in New York City schools for decades, she has helped thousands of at-risk children, and educated parents and children about the dangers of stress and the benefits of teaching resilience.

Child Mind Institute says it best: "Speaking for children's mental health is about more than words—it's about making change for kids and families. Raising our voices lets struggling young people know it's okay to ask for help. Sharing accurate information as well as our stories makes childhood mental illness real. And taking action together transforms children's lives. Speak Up for Kids is about sharing knowledge—and creating change."

Life with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder can be overwhelming for a child. Overstimulation can cause breakdowns or affect verbal communication. One mom describes the challenges of facing society’s questions and future dreams of acceptance for her son with special needs

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