WILTON, Conn. The following is a letter from Wiltons Youth Services director, Margaret Creeth, on Mental Health Awareness Month.
The month of May is national Mental Health Awareness Month and May 9 is National Childrens Mental Health Awareness Day. This day is set aside by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, to raise awareness about the importance of childrens mental health. Positive mental health is essential to a childs healthy development from birth.
As parents we may not always be aware of how mental health issues may manifest themselves in children. For example, did you know that extreme irritability in your teenager may be a sign of depression?
That is not to say that every irritable teenager is depressed! Parents will attest that irritability is often a common trait in teenagers. However, Mental Health Awareness Day is a reminder that sometimes symptoms such as these may need further attention.
Once parents become aware of a potential mental health issue with their child, navigating the system to ensure the best care and intervention can be a daunting process. A good place to start is with your childs doctor. Another is Wilton Youth Services, located at the Comstock Community Center and part of the Social Services Department.
Wilton Youth Services is a town resource for any youth-related issues, including mental health. Staff there advocates for the emotional and social developmental needs of Wilton youth and their families by coordinating and developing services and programs designed to promote positive youth development and healthy family life.
In addition, they provide short-term counseling, consultation and referral services. More information can be found at www.wiltonyouthservices.org.
There are many other resources for families concerned with childrens mental health, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations website, which can be found at www.samhsa.gov. Here you will find information covering a wide range of topics from books to read to young children, social and emotional issues, and milestones in child development, among many others.
Another excellent resource is www.nami.org, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, or NAMI. It is the nations largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. It advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research, and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope for all of those in need.
During the month of May, lets reflect on our job to raise not only physically healthy kids, but children whose mental health needs are met in a developmentally appropriate and sensitive manner.
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