May 2, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of


MONTGOMERY – Governor Bentley recently proclaimed May 1-7 as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Alabama, coinciding with both National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and National Mental Health Month, which is observed annually in May. The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health sponsors Children’s Mental Health Awareness 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.

In recognition of this observance, the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Alabama Family Ties are partnering to raise public awareness and promote a greater understanding of mental health disorders that affect thousands of Alabama children each year. Community mental health providers have been encouraged to sponsor an event to commemorate the week as they have done in previous years. Events such as health fairs at local high schools, direct participation with child abuse awareness events with a focus on mental health issues, poster contests, purchasing and encouraging the wear of green ribbons, and distribution of promotional items from the National Federation of Families to parents at the community’s monthly support meetings are examples of past involvement. Alabama Family Ties is also raising public awareness by overseeing a “Wear a Green Ribbon” campaign. Additionally, they secured art work from a youth consumer during their annual conference that is displayed on a poster in recognition of the observance. These posters were distributed statewide to be displayed throughout the week. This year, AFT has also taken youth consumer art from previous years and developed postcards that can be purchased by contacting them.

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. However, research shows that serious emotional disturbances are more common and often yield more successful treatment outcomes than illnesses such as cancer and juvenile diabetes.

According to Dr. Tammy Peacock, associate commissioner for ADMH’s Division of Mental Illness & Substance Abuse Services, “Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week presents an opportunity for the state to promote the importance of children’s mental health and increase awareness of the issue. Likewise, children and youth with mental health issues and their families deserve access to services and supports that are family-driven, youth-guided and culturally appropriate.” In Alabama, ADMH is in the midst of a project designed to provide a collaborative, community-based system of care responsive to the mental health needs of children and youth with serious emotional disturbances and their families. The ECCHCO Project, which stands for East Central Children’s Health Collaborative Project, is funded by a $9 million grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.

Parents who have a child that develops symptoms of a serious emotional disorder can oftentimes find themselves in the dilemma of not knowing where to go for help. The ECCHCO Project, now in its second year and being administered in Pike, Bullock and Macon counties, will address the comprehensive needs of children and adolescents by creating a family-focused and youth-driven system of care that transcends traditional mental health boundaries by integrating social services, education, and juvenile justice resources with mental health services for children in a community-based outreach setting. Recent developments include securing an advisory structure for the project – which will encompass an ECCHCO Advisory Council, Family Advisory Council and Youth Advisory Council. In addition, social marketing and branding is occurring to help decrease stigma and point of entry sites such as juvenile courts, educational settings and pediatrician offices are being integrated into the project.

It is hoped that local and state efforts surrounding Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and projects such as ECCHCO will raise awareness of and help to better serve the more than 25,000 youth with severe emotional disturbances in Alabama’s public mental health system.


To learn more about Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week activities going on throughout the state,
as well as children’s mental health services in Alabama, contact the Alabama Department of Mental
Health at 334-242-3200 or visit

For more information about Alabama Family Ties, visit their Web site at

More information about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week can be found at the National
Federation of Families Web site at


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