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May 2012Vol. 13 No. 4Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Experiencing traumatic events during childhood can have long-lasting effects on behavioral health, increasing the risk for depression, substance abuse, stress, aggression, and more. To promote the importance of children's mental health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day).

SAMHSA's "Caring for Every Child's Mental Health" public awareness effort was created in 1994 to spread the message that positive mental health is essential for healthy development. In 2011, more than 1,100 communities held events for Awareness Day, including youth rallies, social media campaigns, and art, dance, and music activities for children and youth.

This year's Awareness Day is May 9, and a number of national, local, and online activities are planned to celebrate "Heroes of Hope." These heroes are the caring adults in the lives of children and youth—especially those involved with child welfare—who help them build resiliency after experiencing trauma. As part of this national tribute, SAMHSA is sponsoring a Heroes of Hope Flickr challenge. Between April 2 and May 31, youth can upload to Flickr a photo of their hero, a photo with their hero, or a photo that represents their hero. In June, SAMHSA will feature the top photos on its Awareness Day webpage. For more information on the Flickr challenge, visit: 

Also on Awareness Day, SAMHSA will release a new issue brief highlighting the effects of trauma on children and SAMHSA's trauma-informed services. You can access 2012 Short Report: Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems on May 9 on SAMHSA's website: (163 KB)

More information about Awareness Day, a list of scheduled events around the country, event materials, widgets, sample social media messages, and more are available on the SAMHSA website: