National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day shines a spotlight
on the importance of caring for every child’s mental health
Governor and First Lady DeSantis, along with the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Education and the Agency for Health Care Administration, recognize today as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. One in five kids have a serious mental illness. If left untreated, mental illness may manifest into issues such as learning delays, lack of interest in daily activities and eventual truancy or dropping out of school.
“It is our duty as parents to nurture, protect and provide for our children. No child should feel alone, especially while coping with the effects of a mental illness,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “As Chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, I am committed to working with organizations across the state to coordinate and improve access to critical mental health resources for children and their families.”
A child’s mental illness may be present at birth, develop over time, or be the result of a traumatic event in their lives. Young children are still learning to process their emotions and convey their feelings. Symptoms of a mental health condition may include:
- Changes in school performance
- Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
- Hyperactive behavior
- Frequent nightmares
- Frequent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
“I want to thank Governor and First Lady DeSantis for shining a light on this important issue. When a child endures a mental illness, the whole family feels the impact,” said Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Chad Poppell. “Reaching out for care and support can strengthen a family and make all the difference in the life of a child coping with a mental health issue.”
All parents and caregivers should make it a routine to ask their children, “how are you feeling today?”, listen to their responses, observe their behavior and seek help if necessary. DCF’s child-focused mental health programs provide parents with the critical services and resources to not only treat an acute crisis but maintain family-driven support services for as long as necessary.
“I appreciate Governor and First Lady DeSantis drawing attention to the critical issue of children’s mental health. Research shows that 50 percent of mental illnesses begin by age 14,” said Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “That means our schools are central to identifying and connecting students who are showing signs of mental illness with immediate help. I was proud to join Governor DeSantis in securing $80 million to help district and school personnel in this effort.”
Adults can lessen the effects of mental health illnesses for children and help change the course of a child’s life. The first step is asking for help. If you or someone you know is living with a mental illness and needs help, there are local and national resources available to Florida families.
“No child should ever feel like they have nowhere to turn for mental health treatment. I commend First Lady DeSantis for calling attention to today’s observance of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day as it gives us an important opportunity to talk about services available in our state for children and families that can address mental health issues and promote a better quality of life,” said Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew. “Through the Florida Medicaid program, our Agency facilitates a number of child-centric, mental health diagnosis and treatment options, and we are committed to ensuring every child enrolled in the program, who needs help, is able to find appropriate care and support.”
For a PDF copy of Governor DeSantis’ 2019 Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Proclamation, click HERE.