It’s National Mental Health Awareness Month
May 15, 2017
Good mental health enables us to learn, to feel, to express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions, and to form and maintain good relationships. Clearly, it’s important at every stage of life. However, good mental health is especially important during early childhood, because it’s an essential foundation for early learning and development. Therefore, preventing mental health challenges among children and their caregivers is essential to promoting not only children’s social-emotional well-being but also their school readiness.
NCCP has long been a leader in promoting children’s mental health, beginning with the pioneering work of Jane Knitzer, the center’s former director. Dr. Knitzer authored the groundbreaking policy report Unclaimed Children: The Failure of Public Responsibility to Children and Adolescents in Need of Mental Health Services, which was followed by Unclaimed Children Revisited: The Status of Children’s Mental Health Policy in the United States. Over the years, extensive research conducted by NCCP and others has shown us that investments in the promotion of good mental health among children and those responsible for their care have the potential to benefit not just families and communities, but the nation as a whole. It’s essential that the lessons learned are widely disseminated to the range of stakeholders who have the power to take action on behalf of our children.
An increasing number of policymakers are recognizing that young children’s mental health provides a critical foundation for early learning and positive life outcomes. In several states, young children are benefiting from policies that have expanded infant and early childhood mental health consultations in child care and home visiting settings; maternal depression screening and treatment; and interventions that help parents support children’s social-emotional development. Mental Health Awareness Month reminds us not only that progress has been made in helping children receive the mental health care they deserve but also that much work remains to be done before a continuum of early childhood supports are in place in every state to help all young children thrive.
The publications below are a sampling of NCCP’s work in this area and a demonstration of our continued commitment to lifting up a range of effective policies, programs, and strategies that support child mental health. We hope you’ll share these resources with your networks.
Renée Wilson Simmons, DrPH
Director, National Center for Children in Poverty
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