It’s Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom, Feb 1 – 7th. I wanted to celebrate with our European brothers and sisters to help spread awareness. Here in the US, Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is May 7th, but educating and helping others shouldn’t be limited to just one day or week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did a study in several US school districts. They found an average of one in six children displaying severe enough emotional and/or behavioral symptoms to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. One in six. Think about that for a moment. If there are 18 children in a classroom, at least 3 have a mental health impairment severe enough to be diagnosed as a disorder. That doesn’t even include those who have a mild impairment. The top mental health issue is anxiety, then ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), followed by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If you’re interested in the CDC article, here’s the link:
When my son was diagnosed with selective mutism, I understood it to be an anxiety disorder. But I didn’t view it as a mental health illness. Why? I suppose I thought mental health illnesses were more severe than anxiety, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder; psychotic disorders that require medication to help regulate. But eventually, I came to accept that anxiety is a mental health disorder (and in many cases, also requires medication).
I hope you will share children’s mental health awareness information with at least one person this week. Share on social media or tell a friend or family member. Here’s a link to the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week UK website. There are free resources available.