Standing Up for Children’s Mental Health

TIEMH Stand upGreen shoes on pavement, kites soaring in blue skies, and families and children standing up for mental health and wellness. This is what you can expect on Saturday, May 10, at the event “Stand Up and Soar for Children’s Mental Health.”

The event, which is part of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 4-10), is organized by the Texas System of Care Initiative in partnership with the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health (TIEMH), one of the research institutes at the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. Communities, families, state agencies and youth-serving organizations are invited to participate.

“Green is nationally recognized as a color associated with mental health,” said Dr. Molly Lopez, TIEMH’s director. “We decided to wear green shoes for our event after what happened to NFL player for the Chicago Bears Brandon Marshall. He spoke about his own mental health challenges, and was fined for wearing green shoes during a game in an effort to raise awareness.”

Marshall, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011, will take part in the national launch event for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Washington.

TIEMH 2In Texas, over 700,000 children and youth are estimated to have mental health needs. Fifty percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, but there is an average delay of 8 to 10 years between the onset of symptoms and intervention. Texas is working hard to address these service gaps, as well as improve outcomes for children, youth and families through initiatives like the Texas System of Care.

“If your children are mentally healthy, everything else seems to fall into place,” Sherri Hammack, the project leader for Texas System of Care said. “Mental health is a thread that runs through all systems.”

The system of care framework aims to provide effective services and supports that enable children and
 youth with mental health challenges and their families to thrive in their homes and communities. The system’s philosophy emphasizes services that are community-based, family-driven, youth-guided, individualized, coordinated, and culturally and linguistically competent. Read more about System of Care and TIEMH’s role.

In addition to the “Stand Up and Soar for Children’s Mental Health” event, Texas System of Care has collaborated with the Texas Department of State Health Services on a statewide creativity contest for school aged youth. Winners of the contest will have their work displayed in the Capitol May 4-10.

Systems of care communities across the state are also hosting awareness day events, from trivia nights to kite making parties. For those in the Austin area, The Children’s Partnership is hosting a kite making and shoe decorating party on Tuesday, May 6 beginning at 6 PM at the Palm Square Community Center. If you are interested in attending, please contact Christianna Hale at christianna.hale@co.travis.tx.us.

Stand Up and Soar for Children’s Mental Health will begin at 10 AM at the north entrance of the Capitol. Participants will walk one mile to Wooldridge Square Park to fly kites.

Click here to register for the event. For more information, visit www.txsystemofcare.org or follow them on Twitter at @txsystemofcare. To learn more about the national event, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/children/national.asp.

By Tori Yu. Posted May 5, 2014.