May 10 is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Raleigh

Each year, tens of thousands of children and their families in North Carolina face the challenges of living with mental health issues and seeking treatment and care. Governor Roy Cooper has declared today as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, an observance related to Mental Health Month, also observed during May.

About 20 percent of children and youth are impacted by a mental health disorder, and half our population will meet criteria for a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime, many with their first symptoms during childhood or adolescence.

First Lady Kristin Cooper is joining her husband in his efforts to address the mental wellness of school-age children. She will participate in a live, nationwide webcast at 7 p.m. today. Webcast participants will discuss strategies for making child-serving systems more trauma-informed. The webcast is hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“Identifying children impacted by trauma and providing them with the appropriate care is critical to ensuring their success in school, and ultimately, the rest of their lives,” said the First Lady. “Investing in our children is one of the most important things we can do.”

Governor Cooper’s proposed budget seeks funds to add nurses, counselors and psychologists to improve mental health services in public schools. Early identification and appropriate treatment of mental health disorders among children and adolescents will provide them better opportunities for healthy development.

As part of his proposed budget to be submitted to the General Assembly, Governor Cooper is requesting funds to improve school safety by investing in the following innovative programs to support the mental health needs of children and youth:

$40 million to improve Student Support Services 

  • Nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers play a critical role in identifying and treating youth mental health needs early. 
  • This funding allows schools to hire additional personnel to support students and youth mental health. 

$15 million to support youth mental health 

  • Funding to increase the availability of evidence-based training programs that help teachers, school staff and mental health professionals identify and respond to student mental health challenges. 
  • New funding to provide services to children with identified behavioral health needs and programs designed to give tools to families and providers who care for them. 
  • The budget also includes funding for early childhood programs and critical new family strengthening initiatives that will build family and child resilience, address childhood trauma and prevent adverse mental health outcomes later in life.