Caring for Every Child's Mental Health

2014 National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

In 2014, 1,100 communities and 140 national collaborating organizations joined SAMHSA in celebrating the 2014 National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: Inspiring Resilience, Creating Hope.

National Launch Event

Awareness Day 2014: Inspiring Resilience, Creating Hope

Screenshot of 2014 Awareness Day event, featuring Secretary Kathleen SebeliusWatch now: Webcast of SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2014 launch event from the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at the National Harbor near Washington, DC on May 6.

Disclaimer: This webcast is not recommended for anyone under the age of 14 because there will be candid discussions about challenges faced by young people with behavioral health disorders. This webcast is for informational purposes only, and should anyone have health, medical, or disability questions or concerns, please consult with a qualified physician or other health care or behavioral health care professional. If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs to talk, please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The young adults selected to participate in this celebration of resilience were provided with support during the recruitment, selection, and production phases of the event. A protocol recommended by clinicians was followed to ensure that specific attention was given to the young adults’ emotional well-being.

On May 8, 2014, SAMHSA joined more than 1,100 communities and 140 national collaborating organizations to celebrate Awareness Day 2014.

The national launch event on May 6 included a special general session of the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) annual conference. Chiara de Blasio, the 19-year-old daughter of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, served as the 2014 Honorary Chairperson and was joined onstage by her parents. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented Ms. de Blasio with a special award recognizing her for serving as an example of hope for other young adults by speaking out about her experience with depression and substance use.

Emmy award-winning news anchor Leon Harris from ABC 7/WJLA-TV returned as Master of Ceremonies for the national launch event. National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg opened the general session, which focused on the value of peer support in assisting young adults with behavioral health challenges, particularly in the areas of education, employment, housing, and juvenile justice. It featured Qaiel, Sean, Michelle, and Jim: four young adults who shared their experiences of resilience and providing peer support. They were joined onstage by senior federal officials, including:

  • HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
  • SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.
  • Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Robert Listenbee, Jr., J.D.
  • Executive Director of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors Rob Morrison, who was joined by his son, Robert

These speakers discussed services and supports available to young adults.

National launch event activities on May 6 also included a workshop titled “What Really Works for Young Adults: A Candid Conversation,” hosted in collaboration with the National Council. The workshop offered attendees the opportunity to speak with Qaiel, Sean, Michelle, and Jim in more detail about how behavioral health care professionals and peer support leaders can work together to improve support services for young adults with behavioral health challenges.

Awareness Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and the fact that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.

Communities around the country participated by holding their own Awareness Day events, focusing either on the national theme or adapting the theme to the populations they serve.

Local Events

Communities find new and inspiring ways every year to express what National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day) is all about.

Communities host more than 1,100 events every year in honor of Awareness Day. 2014 included movie screenings, art activities, and much more—Awareness Day 2014 was even featured in a light show!

Here is a sample of how communities came together in 2014 to recognize the importance of mental health and recovery for children, youth, and young adults and to build awareness around substance abuse prevention.


Sewa Uusim Community Partnership–Pascua Yaqui Tribe, System of Care Expansion Grant and Project LAUNCH grant celebrated Awareness Day throughout the month of May by handing out awareness ribbons to community members. They also collaborated with various local programs to provide specialized trainings and events for staff and community members, such as a youth poetry slam. In addition, they held an information night with presentations covering stigma reduction, autism, trauma-informed care for tribal communities, youth first-aid training, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Finally, Sewa Uusim held a fun run/walk and resource fair that drew more than 300 participants.


Humboldt County Board of Supervisors issued an Awareness Day proclamation, where 3 of the 0 to 8 Mental Health Collaborative’s partnering organizations presented information. The Collaborative also partnered with Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services to train 45 attendees on the mental health of infants and toddlers.


Delaware’s B.E.S.T. for Young Children and Their Families of Delaware Children’s Department, Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, conducted multiple events throughout the week of May 6. Events included: its 10th annual “Get the Scoop on Mental Health” outreach partnership with Rita’s Water Ice located across the state; a wear green day, which featured tweets of related photos; development of a social/emotional wellness toolkit and engagement with early childhood providers; a resolution sponsored by the State House of Representatives; dignitary visits with media coverage; and an op-ed published on May 8.

District of Columbia

Children’s National Health System’s art therapy programs collaborated to help 55 participants create warrior/wish dolls and to discuss the importance of wishes, hopes, and dreams as they relate to resilience. The programs also distributed information about children’s stress, mental health awareness, art therapy and mental health, relaxation techniques, and more.


Families and Communities Together in Seminole (FACTS) of Community Based Care of Central Florida/Children’s Cabinet of Seminole County reached nearly 500 people through activities including: “Let’s Move: A Walk For Children’s Mental Health Awareness,” which Youth M.O.V.E. and partners organized; booths at “Alive After 5,” an evening street party for the general public; and a showing of the “Hear Our Voices” documentary, followed by a question and answer panel discussion. FACTS also made presentations to the county council and obtained a proclamation.


On May 8, Project Laulima participated in resource fairs, sign-waving at the State Capitol, and the “Lei of Friendship Rally.” Project Laulima also hosted events throughout the month of May that reached 200 people.


MD CARES of Children’s Mental Health Matters! (a partnership between the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health and the Mental Health Association of Maryland) recruited partners from agencies, providers, and schools across the state. Together, they held a series of events to celebrate Awareness Week, as well as a month long media campaign. Each partner planned its own set of local events. Overall, the statewide campaign drew 110 community partners and 150 school partners.


To help celebrate Awareness Day, American Indian Health and Family Services provided hope and wellness screenings that raised awareness of suicide and suicide prevention. More than 45 people participated in these screenings, which were part of a larger event focused on child and parent American Indian cultural activities. Community partners and members distributed fliers promoting these activities and also promoted them through social media.


Mississippi Project Xpand hosted La Fiesta Grande, an event which was open to the community and students. More than 50 participants had the opportunity to win door prizes, enjoy a meal, and listen to a guest speaker discuss children’s mental health. Mississippi Project Xpand invited the community and families in the area through social media and its Web site.

The Mississippi Transitional Outreach Project, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, the Arc of Mississippi, and the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE) Mississippi organized a third annual “Wellness Walk, Run, or Roll” event to promote mental and physical well-being. Promoting the event through email, Facebook, Twitter, agencies’ websites, state agency newsletters, radio broadcasts, and fliers around the community, the 4 participating agencies were able to involve more than 200 participants.

Nfusion IV partnered with Region IV Mental Health Services to host a 5K fun run/walk. Nfusion IV invited children, youth, and adults, and nearly 60 people participated. Prior to the run/walk, youth made posters with mental health facts to place along the walking trail to raise mental health awareness among participants.

On May 6, NFusion VII held its Awareness Day celebration at Dean Park in Louisville, MS. A week before the event, Louisville was hit by a devastating tornado that left the town in disarray. As a result of the devastation, 12 families that were served by NFusion lost their homes and there was significant damage to the park. NFusion VII was still able to hold its celebration at the park and engaged attendees in a particularly relevant conversation about trauma and mental health awareness. The site served 46 attendees with a cookout, games, inflatables, music, and a recovery story. At the end of the event, families and staff released green balloons and everyone received bags filled with mental health facts.

NFusion X held a Mexican-infused celebration of resilience that drew more than 50 participants. During the week of the event, youth participated in artistic, cultural, and celebratory activities for the mind, body, and soul. Youth also learned facts and statistics on children’s mental health. The week close out with “La Fiesta Grande,” a celebration of resilience.

New York

Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene’s Chautauqua Tapestry reached roughly 100 people with Awareness Day and mental health messages through a wellness fair, a “Strides for My Mind 5K” at a local community college, a mental wellness book display throughout May at a local library, a month long newspaper campaign highlighting their partner agencies and services, a screening and discussion about the documentary “No Kidding, Me 2!!”, and a “Green Ribbon Family Fun Fair” for families.

Nassau County Family Support SOC hosted a series of “Wellness Wednesdays” workshops for children, youth, and their families during May. The system of care also participated in New York State Office of Mental Health’s symposium. In May, Nassau County Family Support SOC reached about 15 to 20 people per week with children’s mental health awareness messages.


Clermont FAST TRAC hosted “My Feelings Are a Work of Art” activities for 700 children and youth using visual and performing arts as a way to positively express mental health. Clermont FAST TRAC will display the resulting art projects this fall at local businesses and a local shopping mall.


Mental Health Services of Southern Oklahoma invited children and their families to an event featuring a representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a hero of hope from the community, who discussed the importance of recognizing mental health and its effects on families. Thirty-six children and family members attended the event.


The K-Town Youth Empowerment Network reached more than 100 people in their viewing of the “Hear Our Voices” film produced by Tennessee Voices for Children. The Youth in Action Council followed the film viewing with a presentation on how their lives had been affected by the mental health system. The county and city mayors also wrote proclamations to proclaim May 8 to be Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Knoxville, TN.


Throughout May, the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health hosted a “Stand Up to Stigma” Facebook campaign, encouraging people to share photos of their green shoes or socks to show support for ending stigma. The Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health also collaborated with the Department of State Health Services to host a statewide art contest, displaying winners’ art in the Texas State Capitol. Finally, the community collaborated with partners to host a walk and kite flying ceremony, which involved more than 100 people and which other system of care communities in Texas replicated. To ensure robust community participation, the community used a mix of promotion channels, including social media, their website and biweekly newsletter, media interviews and editorials, and direct communications to partners and community members.


Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health hosted an informational table at the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, VT, partnering with the Center for Health and Learning and the Vermont Department of Mental Health. Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental distributed approximately 500 items in addition to mental health and suicide prevention information materials. It also supported local events throughout Vermont, such as decorating a vacant store front with materials about child and youth mental health, celebrating “holi,” an ancient Asian festival of color that symbolizes the return of light after darkness, and hosting discussion groups on mental health wellness. Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental also worked with a local library to highlight a book on mental health and wellness, encouraged several regions to hold youth summits, and posted mental health tip sheets at local mental health agencies.


The Loudoun County Community Services Board—including government agencies and community partners—held a health fair to raise awareness about children’s mental health on Friday, May 2. More than 350 people participated in the event that was aimed at debunking myths, spreading awareness, and promoting positive mental and overall health of children.

The Region Ten Community Services Board hosted a screening of Tennessee Voices for Children’s movie, “Hear Our Voices.” The board promoted the screening through fliers distributed to the Department of Social Services, the local Boys and Girls Club, Region Ten staff, and other community partner agencies serving children and families. Twenty people attended the screening.

Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), in collaboration with the Virginia Family Network of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Virginia, hosted a networking dinner for more than 60 people, followed by a viewing of the movie “Hear Our Voices.” Before the viewing, the DBHDS commissioner and the deputy secretary for health and human resources shared children’s mental health statistics and information about systems of care. The groups hosted a panel discussion after the screening that included a question and answer session with family, youth, and providers.


The Lummi Indian Business Council held an event called “Medicine of the Heart” that promoted healing and recognized unsung heroes and leaders in their community. More than 170 people attended as these unsung heroes were celebrated for their dedication, loyalty, and commitment to a healthier community. The community began preparing for the event 6 months prior, using the Lummi cultural protocol. This involved personally going to each home and giving invitations to those to be honored and their family members. They also used the Lummi Indian Business Council intranet to post the event’s date, time, and place.

National Organizations

The American Occupational Therapy Association highlighted mental and physical health and safety. They partnered with the National Autism Association to develop a new fact sheet, available online, about wandering for children with autism. In May, the American Occupational Therapy Association hosted a chat featuring an occupational therapist, representatives from the National Autism Association, and a first responder, to discuss mental health issues and Awareness Day. The association also published articles and disseminated Awareness Day messages.

The Children’s Mental Health Resource Center sent Awareness Day information to primary care providers and others to spread awareness of planned events supporting Awareness Day.

The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health sold green ribbons, lapel pins, stickers, and more; distributed an advocacy toolkit that helps families, youth, and organizations raise awareness for positive children’s mental health practices; partnered with Mental Health America,& National Alliance on Mental Illness, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for a Capitol Hill legislative briefing on May 7; and hosted an interactive poster contest.

ZERO TO THREE partnered with the National Association for the Education of Young Children to develop and post a blog highlighting Awareness Day. The blog served as a call to action for strengthening community responsiveness to young parents with mental health challenges. Information on Awareness Day also was promoted through other communication channels, including newsletters, email, and social media. ZERO TO THREE also played a key role in the Awareness Day Knowledge Network for Systems of Care TV (KSOC-TV) webisode focusing on young parents.

Last Updated: 07/16/2014