Monday, May 7, 2012

Light It Up Green - #SpeakUpForKids

May 6 - 12 is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week  

Today I was invited to the Child Mind Institute to kick off National Mental Health Awareness week and the 2nd annual national public education program - Speak Up For Kids.

The Child Mind Institute is dedicated to:

  • transform mental health care for children everywhere;
  • raise awareness; and 
  • empower children and their families with the information they need to get help, hope and answers. 

Dr. Harold S. Kopelwicz, President of the Child Mind Institute and one of the nation’s leading child and adolescent psychiatrists, spoke passionately about erasing the stigma of mental health.

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.  That's why we need you to Speak Up For Kids and to let the world know that silence and shame are not options.  The Child Mind Institute is committed to providing the support and information families need to get children the care they deserve.   

As the parent of a child with Autism/ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder I am well aware of the stigma our children face.  But parents of special needs children are also stigmatized. surveyed readers and 74% of parents said that kids are often put on medication as a quick and easy fix. (For the complete survey go HERE)  

74% - I was shocked. I know many parents who have put their child on medication and I can tell you.  It's not a decision any parent takes lightly.  I go back and forth myself.  And yet, other people are so quick to judge.  

If a child had cancer, asthma or diabetes and medication was an option - would anyone be as quick to call it a "quick and easy fix?"

But when it comes to Mental Health and psychiatric disorders - there is no easy fix or a one size fits all solution.  
I learned a lot today.  While it was great to learn more about the Child Mind Institute.  It was most upsetting to learn about all the misinformation there is regarding children's mental health.  This week of awareness is important for everyone.    

And in honor of this week, the Child Mind Institute will be hosting a series of events:   
  • Tuesday, May 8, at 7PM ET, the Child Mind Institute (@ChildMindDotOrg) will be hosting a tweet chat in honor of Children's Mental Health Awareness Week on Parenting in the Digital Age.
  • Friday, May 11, at 12PM ET the Child Mind Institute will be hosting a live Speak Up for Kids talk on Facebook in honor of Children's Mental Health Awareness Week.
For more events please visit the Events page on Child Mind Institute -

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.