Join Us As We Speak Up for Kids
More than 20 years ago I had a patient named Jesse. He was a textbook case of adolescent depression — withdrawing from friends, failing at school, not living up to his considerable potential — but he had another answer. “I’m not depressed. I’m just tired and lazy.”
Though 15 million children in the United States have psychiatric and learning disorders, very few of them will be identified and get the help they need. Stigma, lack of awareness, and a deep anxiety about labels and diagnosis mean that kids like Jesse will continue to miss out on life-changing treatments even if, like him, they actually make it to the office of a mental health professional.
The problem is that the issue of childhood mental illness is too often a silent one, and the existence of these well-documented and researched disorders — depression, ADHD, Asperger’s — is even actively denied by some people. “That’s not real” turns into “boys will be boys” or “I am not depressed,” which too often becomes “I am just worthless.” That is why every year we take time to Speak Up for Kids — to let the world know that silence and shame are not options.
So I invite you to stand with us this May, during National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and be counted as we Speak Up for Kids. It’s easy — simply go to www.childmind.org/speakup and sign up to light up our interactive map. Our goal is to turn the globe green — the color of children’s mental health.
Also as part of Speak Up for Kids, professionals around the country are offering free talks in their communities to share helpful information about childhood disorders and issues of concern to all parents. You can find out about talks during the week of May 6-12 here, which include: When Bad Things Happen: Helping Kids Cope With Traumatic Events; Is It ADHD or Just Inattention?; Is It Depression or Teen Angst?; When to Worry About Your Child’s Worries; A Parent’s Guide to Bullying; Building Your Education Team; The Difficult Child: Dealing With Behavioral Issues; Raising Children in the Digital Age.
Before we can get every child with a psychiatric disorder the early diagnosis and intervention that we know are crucial to transforming lives, we need to provide families with support, education, and a robust voice.
We need to Speak Up for Kids — and I hope you will join the Child Mind Institute and all of our wonderful partners.
It took a long time working with Jesse to help him overcome his ambivalence, but we got there. And we can get there with this country and even the world, by speaking up one voice at a time. #
Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., is a leading child and adolescent psychiatrist and the president of the Child Mind Institute. For more information, go to childmind.org
got there. And we can get there with this country and even the world, by speaking up one voice at a time. #
Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., is a leading child and adolescent psychiatrist and the president of the Child Mind Institute. For more information, go to childmind.org, which also offers a wealth of information on childhood psychiatric and learning disorders.