Washington, DC—The District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health today announced that posters by students in 12 public and public charter schools that portray mental well-being are on display from May 4 through May 8 in the atrium of the John A. Wilson building in recognition of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Across the country, young people are participating in activities during May to call attention to the importance of paying attention to the mental health of young people, and to emphasize that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development.
Most children and youth manage well daily challenges and stresses with the support of families, friends and other adults. However, some children who suffer a personal loss or have a traumatic experience may be at greater risk for severe reactions. Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14 but there are often years before people seek and receive treatment.
“Early identification can lead to timely treatment, and make a lifetime difference. Children and youth with mental health needs—and their families—thrive when they have the right treatment and supports,” said Barbara J. Bazron, Interim Director of the Department of Behavioral Health. “An emotional or mental illness should not be a barrier to a child reaching his or her full potential.”
The Department of Behavioral Health each year works in partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, DC Public Schools, and the DC Public Charter School Board to hold activities around Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. This year, participating schools held a poster making exercise for Pre-K through 2nd grades to promote discussion among the students about mental well-being under the theme “Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health”. Each school selected a poster for display in the Wilson Building.
Participating schools are:
Browne Education Campus
Friendship PCS Blow-Pierce
Harriet Tubman Elementary
KIPP DC Heights Academy
Peabody Early Childhood Campus
Tree of Life PCS, and
Wheatley Education Campus
The Department of Behavioral offers community based mental health services for children, youth and their families proven to make a difference in a child’s functioning in school, at home, and in the community. Nearly 4,500 District children and youth receive services last year.
As part of its early identification program, the Department works with pediatricians to include mental health screening as part of its annual well check. The Department also conducts universal screening in Pre-K to 2nd grades in 35 public schools, and provides mental health consultation to staff and parents in 26 child development centers across the District. Mental health clinicians in 58 public and public charter schools treat as needed with parental consent and hold prevention, anti-bullying and other mental wellness activities.
The Department operates a children’s clinic with same day, walk in service for children up to six years old, and a team of mental health specialists travel to a home or school to treat a child in crisis seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The Department also supports treatment for youth with substance use as well as mental disorders, and works with young people, their families and community partners to prevent drug use with a focus on underage drinking and marijuana use.
For more information about available services for children and families, or to talk to a mental health counselor, call the Access Helpline at 1-888-793-4357, or go to www.dbh.dc.gov.
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day was started in 2006 by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other national organizations to raise awareness of effective programs for children’s mental health needs.