Written by Emily Yisa, Disability Services Project Coordinator and Educator
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is an annual event held on the first Thursday of the full week in May. Its aim is to raise awareness about the importance of mental health in children and youth. The event provides an opportunity for parents, caregivers, educators, and mental health professionals to come together to discuss the mental health challenges that children face and the resources that are available to support them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the lives of children and youth, including disruptions to education, social isolation, and increased stress and anxiety. It is more important than ever to prioritize children’s mental health and well-being, and National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day offers a platform to begin these conversations. By raising awareness and promoting early intervention and treatment, we can better ensure that children can grow up healthy and resilient.
According to one study, anywhere from 30 to 50% of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities may have mental health related needs.[i] Signs and indicators of mental health related conditions may go unnoticed in children with disabilities and may be attributed to their disability. There are many reasons why children with disabilities may be more likely to have mental health related conditions:
- Children with disabilities are more likely to experience traumatic events (e.g., medical trauma, abuse, neglect, bullying, seclusion, restraint, etc.)
- Children with disabilities may experience greater stress and/or encounter more social challenges
- Children with disabilities are more likely to experience isolation (e.g., in schools they are often segregated to classrooms with peers with disabilities, they may spend more time at home, etc.)
Below are some resources to learn more about children with disabilities and/or with mental health related conditions.
- National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health: This organization provides resources, support, and advocacy for families of children with mental health conditions.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Read more about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and explore the rest of the site to learn about resources for children and youth with disabilities, including a directory of treatment providers and mental health services.
- Social Emotional Learning: Read about how schools are using social emotional learning to help address children’s mental health.
- Navigate Life Texas: Learn about the effects of trauma on children’s mental health.