Spread the word! National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day highlights an ongoing crisis


Everyone loves a “mental health” day, one of those days when we get to relax and escape from the everyday worries and stresses of life.

Imagine the challenge of dealing with true mental health issues everyday – especially as a child or youth where mental health issues can cause isolation, challenge the ability to learn, and create everyday frustrations. Nearly 4 million children in the U.S. suffer from a broad range of serious mental health disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, autism, Tourette Syndrome, behavioral disorders, eating disorders, ADHD and others.

The outward signs of a disorder may change over time and can affect the child’s ability to learn and interact in school, create behaviors that inhibit healthy play, and impact friendships and family dynamics. Children with mental disorders may have problems handling emotions appropriately. Even so, these mental disorders can be difficult to diagnose and may not be correctly identified until school or teen-age years.

Without diagnoses and treatment, these conditions can interfere with healthy development and can have long-term impact during youth and adulthood.

Youth mental disorder sidebar-KayMeyer

May 7, 2015 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day – a day focused on the importance of raising awareness about children’s mental health and showing that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.

Why is this issue so critical to our nation?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths 15-24 years of age and more than 90% of adolescents who have committed suicide have struggled with a mental health disorder. States spend nearly $1 billion annually on suicide and suicide attempts by youths.

Nearly 50% of students who suffer from a mental disorder drop out of school before completing high school. A rate higher than any other group with a disability.

And unfortunately, youth with mental disorders and those who are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, are more likely to end up in juvenile detention. Estimates indicate that 65-75% of youths in juvenile detention suffer from one or more mental disorders. These youths need treatment rather than incarceration to provide the best chance at positive futures.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration marks the 10th annual National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day with a series of events nationwide as well as opportunities for young adults to share their experiences with mental health issues, their resilience and their positive outcomes.

What can you do to spread awareness?

Mental health is a social issue that impacts all of us – from the costs of addressing the challenge to the social impact on our communities to, most importantly, the well-being and positive futures of our children. The SAS State and Local Government practice is committed to being a tireless force for the welfare of children. We recognize that improving the lives of children with mental disorders requires the input and collaboration of many individuals and organizations – families, friends, educators, healthcare providers, treatment programs and community and government leaders. We believe data and analysis can help provide insight and tools for those striving to find the most positive outcomes for our children and youth and we are dedicated to finding ways to bring awareness and support to this critical issue.


About Author

Kay Meyer

Principal Industry Consultant

Kay Meyer is a Principal Industry Consultant working with SAS’ State and Local Government practice. She brings experience, best practices and strategies to help states establish Centers for Analytics for Government Advancement. Prior to joining SAS, Kay spent 18 years in state government and led the efforts in North Carolina to set the strategic vision, definition and implementation for the North Carolina Government Data Analytics Center. Kay also led the formation of NC’s first enterprise fraud, waste, and improper payment detection program, as well as the implementation of the state’s first integrated criminal justice system, CJLEADS, which supports over 27,000 criminal justice professionals statewide. Kay holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems from the University of Virginia and a Master of Business Administration from George Washington University.

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