Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

May 7

APA is a proud national supporter of SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health so that children may get help for mental health disorders with the same urgency as any other health condition and, ultimately, to reduce the impact of mental illness on America’s communities. The awareness day seeks to communicate that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.

In May 2014, the awareness day theme was Inspiring Resilience, Creating Hope.


The national launch event was a special general session of the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) annual conference. Chiara de Blasio, the 19-year-old daughter of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, served as the 2014 Honorary Chairperson. De Blasio was joined onstage by her parents Mayor de Blasio and Chirlane McCray. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented de Blasio with a special recognition award for serving as an example of hope for other young adults by speaking out about her experience with depression and substance use.

The session focused on the value of peer support in assisting young adults with behavioral health challenges, particularly in the areas of education, employment housing and justice. It featured Jim, Michelle, Qaiel and Sean — four young adults who shared their experiences of resilience and providing peer support. They were joined onstage with senior federal officials, including secretary Sebelius and others who discussed services and supports available to young adults. The one-hour session was webcast live.

Launch activities also included a workshop beginning at 4 p.m., "What Really Works for Young Adults: A Candid Conversation," hosted in collaboration with the National Council. The workshop offered attendees the opportunity to speak with Chiara, Jim, Michelle, Qaiel and Sean in more detail about opportunities to support adults with behavioral health challenges.

Speak Up For Kids

Once again, APA was a proud partner in the national Speak Up For Kids campaign. Throughout May, the campaign drew attention to the barriers to mental health care experienced by children and their families. Speak Up For Kids invited leaders from a wide array of professional disciplines, including psychology, to contribute to the conversation with streamed talks and roundtable discussions, videos and written pieces.

Please visit the APA Help Center's Children's Mental Health Month page for more information on APA's participation in Speak Up for Kids.


Everyone has a reason to speak up. Do it for your own child, a friend's child, a parent, a partner or even for yourself. Share the reason why you speak up using the hashtag #ISpeakUp or a photo of yourself with this #ISpeakUp sign (PDF,157KB) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Lessons from Newtown

A Webcast Presented live from the National Council for Behavioral Health Conference

By Harold Koplewicz, MD

The events at Sandy Hook Elementary, as well as other violent outbursts by disturbed young men, teach us all too clearly that isolation and frustration are a dangerous combination. But there is a broader lesson to be learned, one about the volatility of even the most well-adjusted adolescent brain, and the dangers this developmental stage poses through around age 25 — most often to young people themselves.

In this presentation, Koplewicz summarized the most up-to-date research on adolescent brain development, and the implications for psychiatric illness, substance abuse and dangerous behavior. Koplewicz discussed the effectiveness of proven individual treatments, and the emerging research on community models for preventing and managing both psychiatric illness and troubling problem behaviors. And, he outlines important steps parents, educators and other professionals who interact with teens can take to ensure healthy development and intervene early.

Mind the Gap: Integrating Physical and Mental Health

Museum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637

Integration of primary care and mental health services holds the promise of better access to quality care and improved outcomes for kids. This event featured an address by Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute and a panel discussion with Heather Alderman, Barbara Bowman, Ricardo Estrada, Bennett Leventhal, Cathy Mavrolas (APA member) and Gerry Chico (moderator). With opening remarks by Michi Nogami-Marshall and the Chicago Bears' Brandon Marshall, of the Brandon Marshall Foundation.

For more information, please contact Kimberly LeVine or (646) 625-4268.

APA Resources on Trauma and Violence

APA is well aware of the impact of trauma and violence on children’s mental health and has a longstanding commitment to addressing issues of concern to practitioners, researchers, educators and the general public. The following resources are dedicated to shedding light on these issues:

Children and Trauma: Update for Mental Health Professionals
Many children are exposed to traumatic life events, such as abuse, school violence, car accidents or terrorism. Short-term distress is common but most children and adolescents show resilience. This 16-page booklet provides a brief overview for mental health professionals on:

  • What we know about PTSD and trauma in children and adolescents

  • How you can help children, adolescents and their families cope and recover from trauma 

  • What we still need to learn about the complexities of PTSD and trauma

  • Additional resources for professionals

Children and Trauma: Tips for Mental Health Professionals

In their roles as clinicians, scientists, teachers and community members, mental health professionals can make a difference in the way our society responds to child trauma. This tip sheet serves as a practical guide for professionals on:

  • Basic information every mental health professional should know about PTSD and trauma in children and adolescents

  • How to identify PTSD and/or trauma and provide care to children, adolescents and their families

  • Pitfalls to avoid when you encounter trauma and PTSD in children and adolescents

Trauma and PTSD in Children and Adolescents Fact Sheet (PDF, 65KB) 
This fact sheet serves as a functional guide for policymakers on the following:

  • Impact of exposure to trauma on children and adolescents

  • The best approach to policymaking that will improve outcomes for youth exposed to trauma

  • Recommendations in the areas of research, practice, education and training

ACT (Adults & Children Together) Against Violence Program
The ACT program’s mission is to mobilize communities and educate families to create safe, nurturing, healthy environments that protect children and youth from violence and its consequences. APA is committed to making psychological knowledge and findings on violence prevention available to mobilize communities, organizations and professionals to help families apply them in their daily lives. 

Report on Child Maltreatment Prevention in Community Health Centers
This report identifies and recommends public health strategies and interventions based on the best available science to prevent child maltreatment and to promote positive parenting practices within the context of behavioral health integration at community health centers.

Additional Relevant Resources