The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) is proud to recognize May 11, 2023, as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. DHHS is aiming to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health, the prevalence of mental health challenges in society, and the resources that are available to those in need of assistance.
To celebrate this awareness day, various organizations and mental health professionals advocate for increased awareness and support for children and adolescents who may be struggling with mental health challenges by hosting events throughout the month of May. This includes promoting access to resources and services, raising awareness about the warning signs of mental health challenges, and reducing any negativity associated with seeking help for mental health concerns.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six children in the United States (U.S.), between two to eight years old has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. A U.S. survey conducted in 2018-2019 reported that 36.7% of adolescents aged 12-17 years had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. These disorders can have an impact on children and adolescents’ development, learning, and overall well-being.
According to the CDC, here are some positive parenting tips to help with children’s mental health and overall well-being.
Children age 0-5:
- Read to or with your child daily.
- Encourage them to try new things and explore their world.
- Give praise when they follow instructions and show positive behaviors.
- Let them help with simple chores.
- Help them navigate the steps to solve problems when they are upset or frustrated.
Children age 6-11:
- Show affection and recognize accomplishments.
- Help them develop a sense of responsibility by helping with age-appropriate household chores.
- Talk about school, their friends, building healthy relationships, and respecting others.
- Help your child learn patience by finishing a task before going out to play. Encourage them to think about possible consequences before acting.
- Do fun things together as a family, such as playing games, reading, and going to events in the community.
Children age 12-17:
- Show interest in your teen’s school life, friends, and any extracurricular activities.
- Compliment your teen and celebrate their efforts and accomplishments.
- Help your teen make wise choices.
- Respect your teen’s thoughts and feelings. It is important that they know you are listening.
- When there is conflict, be clear about goals and expectations but allow them to give input on how to achieve these goals.
- Respect your teen’s need for privacy and encourage them to get enough sleep and exercise while eating healthy and balanced meals.
Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being for individuals of all ages. Reaching developmental and emotional milestones, learning healthy social skills, and learning how to cope with stress and stay resilient when there are problems are all examples of healthy mental health goals for children. Struggling with emotions and behavior is a normal part of growing up. Children’s mental health can be strengthened by supportive relationships and environments that focus on their growth and learning healthy and positive habits.
Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis? Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:
- The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline; call, text, or chat 988
- Your faith-based leader, your healthcare professional, or your student health center on campus.
- Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
- Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)