May was National Mental Health Awareness Month and MCF was engaged in a number of activities to raise awareness of the importance of children’s mental health. Each year, in coordination with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, the Mental Health Association of Maryland and Maryland Coalition of Families co-sponsor the Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign, supporting a variety of coordinated activities throughout the month of May. The campaign goal is to raise awareness of the importance of children’s mental health and reduce stigma.
This year, a record number of schools and community organizations signed up to get involved. There were 656 School Champions and 219 Community Champions, presenting every jurisdiction in the state! This year’s activities included: adding a statement about mental health in the morning school announcements; having students write an essay about their feelings; organizing a “flash mob” to dance in public; and prominently displaying the annual Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign poster, which showcased artwork produced by a student.
Once again, First Lady Yumi Hogan acted as the honorary chair for a children’s art event sponsored by the Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign. Artwork was contributed from students across the state, which was then framed and placed on display in the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis. Each year there is a prompt for the artwork—this year it was “create artwork expressing something which makes you feel mentally happy, healthy and/or hopeful.” Students and their families came to a reception to see their art on display and meet with the First Lady.
By promoting conversations and providing resources about children’s mental health, the Campaign hopes to raise awareness, provide information and ultimately reduce the stigma that can surround children with mental health needs and their families. Congratulations to all who were involved in these initiatives and thank you for your commitment to this work!