Celebrate Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month

page-0The Arts Therapies in Arts in Medicine is one of the 1,100 organizations across the country celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month this May. Arts in Medicine is partnering up with the Eating Disorder Recovery Center, Psychiatry, Psychology, Child Life and Social Work to bring awareness at UF Health.

In a national effort, the US Department of Health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Awareness (NAMI), the American Academy of Pediatrics, (APA) and the American Art Therapy Association, (AATA), among others, have collaborated to raise awareness about the impact mental health can have on a child’s healthy development.

Relevant to UF Health is the impact medical treatment can have on a child’s mental health. The APA (2014) recognized that an estimated 16.1% of children and adolescents meet some criteria for a mental health issue that impairs their emotional or behavioral function. And that these mental health problems may present themselves as physical symptoms such as back or chest pain, digestive concerns, changes in appetite, or sleep patterns, fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath among other things (APA, 2010).

Furthermore, the National Child Trauma Stress Network  (NCSTN, 2013) identified that 80% of pediatric patients report traumatic stress following illness, injury, hospitalization or painful medical procedure even when treating clinicians are providing excellent care. SAMHSA (2013) recommends that the sooner a patient is treated for any emotional distress, the better they will be able to comply with medical treatment, heal physically, and go on to lead a happy, healthy life.

Just a Journey-page-0During the month of May UF Health and Arts in Medicine will be hosting a social media campaign to raise awareness about children’s mental health.

May 1st -31st stop by the Criser Cancer Resource Center gallery to see Just a Journey: Poems and artworks of a cancer survivor. Khandice Long used visual art, writing, and music to cope with her hospitalization and develop emotional resiliency through the arts during a difficult time in her life. You are welcome to join us on May 17th for a book launch celebration and signing with Khandice 3pm-5pm in the CCRC.

On Thursday May 8th, in the N. Tower Atrium from 11am-2pm there will be resources about supporting the mental wellness of children at UF Health. Passers-by will be able to access educational information about children’s mental health in a medical setting. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a community art project that will be displayed at UF Health.

To learn more about how children and adolescents can be resilient with the help of family, friends, and providers visit these resources:

SAMHSA – Caring for every child

American Academy of Pediatrics – Mental Health Initiatives