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2017 National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, May 1-7

Posted: May 1st, 2017

The Howard County Public School System joins communities across the nation in observing National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This event highlights the importance of integrating behavioral health and primary care for children and adolescents in every environment. With a focus on building resilience and social-emotional skills we can help all students and their families thrive.

Photo of students playfully running through a field.

The following are ten tips to building resilience and helping our children and adolescents manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty*:

  1. Make Connections – Teach your child how to make friends. Encourage your child to be a friend. Build a strong family network. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience.
  2. Help Others – Children can be empowered by helping others. Engage your child in age-appropriate volunteer work or have them assist you with a task.
  3. Maintain a Daily Routine – Sticking to a routine can be comforting to children. Encourage your child to develop his or her own routines.
  4. Take a Break – Endlessly worrying can be counter-productive. Teach your child to focus on something besides what’s worrying him or her. Be aware of what your child is exposed to, such as news, that can be troubling.
  5. Self-Care – Teach your child the importance of a healthy diet, exercise and rest. Make sure your child has some time to have fun and relax. Together you can care for oneself, stay balanced and better deal with stressful times.
  6. Goal-Setting – Teach your child to set reasonable goals and then move toward them one step at a time. Praising your child for moving toward their goal helps build resilience to move forward in the face of challenges.
  7. Positive Self-Esteem – Help your child remember ways he or she has successfully handled hardships in the past. These past challenges help him or her build the strength to handle future challenges.
  8. Keep Perspective – Help your child look at a situation, no matter how painful, in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. An optimistic and positive outlook helps your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times.
  9. Self-Discovery – Tough times are often when children learn the most about themselves. Help your child take a look at how whatever is he or she is facing can teach them about their own strengths and well-being.
  10. Accept Change – Change can be scary. Help your child see that change is part of life and new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable. Share examples of how change has had a positive impact on someone’s life.

*Adapted from Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers, American Psychological Association.

These ten tips are also available in Spanish:

How to Seek Help

If you are concerned about your child’s behaviors or emotions or that they may be experiencing a mental health challenge you are not alone. One in five children live with a mental health condition (facts and figures (PDF) – file size: 2MB). Early identification and intervention are essential. Here are some resources to assist you secure mental health supports for your child:

Who to Ask:

You may want to start by speaking with you friends, family members, or faith support person.

Your child’s pediatrician/family physician, school counselor or school psychologist is available to assist and/or provide referrals.

Facts for Families Handouts:

Local Resources for Immediate Support:

Additional Information:

Children’s Mental Health Matters

Directory of Mental Health Services in Howard County

HCDrugFree: Empowering the Community

Maryland Crisis Hotline Network

Maryland’s Network of Care

NAMI: Supporting Family Members and Caregivers

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

NIDA for Teens

SAMHSA’s National Helpline