Today, May 9, is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day – a chance to bring awareness to the insufficiencies in the nation’s mental health services for children and young adults. Children are one of our nation’s greatest resources for growth in the future, but their intellectual, social and emotional growth depends on care for their mental wellness during their peak development years.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five children and youth experience a mental health condition at any given time, but 64 percent do not receive the help or treatment they require. Our founder, Miss Ima Hogg, cared deeply about children and spent a great deal of her time and money working to make life better for kids. She established two funds at the foundation dedicated to advancing children’s mental health. The Ima Hogg Endowment has awarded more than $30 million in 167 grants to Houston and Harris County organizations that serve children and their families. In 1963, Miss Ima established the Varner-Bayou Bend Heritage Fund to emphasize the importance of identifying and addressing childhood mental illness in its early stages. The fund supports mental health training for people in Houston and Harris County who work with children, such as primary care physicians, teachers, nurses, and after-school and day care providers. Miss Ima cared about the future of our children so much that she even served on the Houston school board.
In 2010, the foundation created the Young Minds Matter Seminars to provide quality training to Houston and Harris County service providers, youth, family members and advocates around current best practices and resources in children’s mental health. This year’s conference focused on Transition Age Youth, young adults between ages 14 and 24.
In addition, four of our 2013 policy project grantees are working toward systemic changes in public policy that will advance the mental health of children and youth in Texas. These projects are addressing children’s mental health in schools, juvenile justice and the Texas foster care system.
For more information about children’s mental health, go to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day web page. Children and youth are our future. How will you make a commitment to children’s mental health?