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Lincoln – The Division of Behavioral Health in Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is shining a spotlight on the importance of children's mental health in May by observing a trio of awareness opportunities: National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week May 2-8; National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on May 6, and May is also recognized as Children's Mental Health Month.
Mental health is an important part of overall health for children as well as adults. Half of all lifetime mental illness begins at the average age of 14 and three-quarters by age 24. For many adults who have behavioral health disorders, symptoms were present—but often not recognized or addressed—in childhood and adolescence. For a young person with symptoms of a mental behavioral health disorder, the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it can be. Early treatment can help prevent more severe, lasting problems as a child grows up.
“This month, we encourage parents, caregivers, and other adults in a child's life to learn more about the significant role mental health plays in overall wellness and wellbeing," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “Just like physical health, positive mental health is vital to a child's development. It is okay to ask for information, ask questions and reach out for help. Prevention and early intervention are important to a child's lifetime health. It's so important to normalize the health conversation regarding mental health."
It is normal for children and youth to experience episodes of anxiety about school and experience short periods of depression. When symptoms persist, it may be time to seek professional assistance. As with adults, the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected children and youth. Predictability and routine is important for youth, and for many youth that predictability was disrupted by the pandemic.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
Older children and adolescents may benefit from an evaluation if they:
Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to: