May 4, 2010

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of

CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH TAKES FOREFRONT DURING NATIONAL AND STATEWIDE OBSERVANCE

MONTGOMERY – As Governor Riley stated in a recent proclamation, “Our most important asset is the children of this state; their health and welfare are paramount to Alabama’s future.” This proclamation declared May 1-8 as Children’s Mental Health Week in Alabama, coinciding with both National Children’s Mental Health Week and National Mental Health Month, which is observed annually in May. The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health sponsors National Children’s Mental Health Week each year in an effort to increase public awareness of the triumphs and challenges in children’s mental health and to emphasize the importance of family and youth involvement in the
children’s mental health movement.

The Alabama Department of Mental Health and Alabama Family Ties are joining this national and statewide opportunity to recognize children’s mental health as a critical issue. Artwork from four youth were selected during the annual AFT conference as the design for separate posters promoting Children’s Mental Health Week in Alabama. These posters were sent throughout the state to be displayed, and the youth were recognized at the proclamation signing ceremony with the Governor. ADMH and AFT are also encouraging those with an interest in children’s mental health to “Wear a Green Ribbon” to further promote the observance.

In addition, community mental health providers have been encouraged to join in commemorating the week. Many of the community mental health providers are expected to actively participate as they have done every year. Last year, a variety of activities were held statewide including participation in health fairs with local high schools, participation in a Child Abuse Awareness event that allowed for direct focus on mental health issues, wearing green ribbons and distributing promotional items from the National Federation of Families to parents at community monthly support meetings.

The latest national data shows that bipolar disorder, major depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and various severe anxiety disorders affect one in five children each year. In Alabama, approximately 25,000 children receive public mental health treatment every year.

Often, youth with a serious emotional disorder (SED) may experience unreasonable fear and anxiety, lasting depression, low self-esteem, or feelings of worthlessness. Frequently, they are viewed as being bad kids and their parents are suspected of being bad parents. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, research show that serious emotional disturbances are more common and often yield more successful treatment outcomes than cancer and juvenile diabetes. Kim Hammack, coordinator of child and adolescent services at ADMH says, “Children’s Mental Health Week gives us an opportunity to educate people and overcome these false perceptions. It is hoped that our local and state efforts will reduce stigma and increase the community’s awareness of the 25,000 youth with serious emotional disorders that are served statewide.”

RESOURCES

To learn more about National Children’s Mental Health Week, visit www.autism.alabama.gov.

For more information about children’s mental health services in the state of Alabama, contact the Alabama Department of Mental Health at 334-242-3200 or visit www.mh.alabama.gov.

For more information on Alabama Family Ties, visit their Web site at www.alfamilyties.org.

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  • For more information, visit http://mh.alabama.gov
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