If you’d like to obtain a letter of proclamation from your governor, mayor, or local official, be sure to start the process as early as possible, as it can take awhile to secure. The proclamation can be used to generate awareness of the achievement of your program in meeting the mental health needs of children, youth, and families.
Depending upon the size of your city, you can contact the mayor directly or work with a staff member or aide within the mayor’s office.
Below is a sample National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day proclamation. You can use it as a guide when working with an elected official to develop a local proclamation.
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Proclamation
WHEREAS addressing the complex mental health needs of children, youth, and families today is fundamental to the future of [YOUR COMMUNITY OR STATE];
WHEREAS the need for comprehensive, coordinated mental health services for children, youth, and families places upon our community a critical responsibility;
WHEREAS it is appropriate that a day should be set apart each year for the direction of our thoughts toward our children’s mental health and well-being;
WHEREAS [NAME OF YOUR ORGANIZATION], through its unique approach to serving children and adolescents, is effectively caring for the mental health needs of children, youth, and families in our community;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, [NAME OF MAYOR, GOVERNOR, OR OTHER ISSUER], do hereby proclaim [DATE], to be [YOUR COMMUNITY OR STATE] Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and urge our citizens and all agencies and organizations interested in meeting every child’s mental health needs to unite on that day in the observance of such exercises as will acquaint the people of [YOUR COMMUNITY OR STATE] with the fundamental necessity of a year-round program for children and youth with mental health needs and their families.
[SIGNATURE, DATE, AND SEAL AT THE BOTTOM]
[PRINT ON PROGRAM LETTERHEAD OR INSERT PROGRAM LOGO HERE]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
[INSERT DISTRIBUTION DATE]
[INSERT NAME OF PRESS CONTACT HERE]
[PHONE NUMBER], [E-MAIL]
[YOUR CITY]-Based [YOUR PROGRAM NAME] Joins More than 1,100 National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Celebrations Across the Country
[CITY, State] — Today, [NAME OF YOUR PROGRAM] joined more than 1,100 communities across the country in celebrating the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to highlight the importance of positive mental health from birth. This year, the national focus of Awareness Day is [FOCUS].
For [INSERT NUMBER] years, [NAME OF YOUR PROGRAM] has offered young children, youth, and young adults with mental health and substance use challenges in [INSERT NAME OF COMMUNITY] the services and supports they need to meet their goals at home, at school, and in the community. Research has shown that young adults (ages 18—25) taking part in community-based treatment programs achieve positive outcomes in behavioral and emotional health, daily life skills, employment, enrollment in school, and reduced homelessness.
To celebrate Awareness Day locally, [NAME OF YOUR PROGRAM] hosted [INSERT DESCRIPTION OF EVENT], involving more than [MINIMUM NUMBER OF EXPECTED PARTICIPANTS] from [NAMES(S) OF AREA(S)]. [[INCLUDE ANY OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR EVENT HERE.] [IF EVENT/PROGRAM ADDRESSES THE NATIONAL FOCUS ON YOUNG ADULTS, INSERT DETAILS HERE].
“Awareness Day is an opportunity for us to join with more than a thousand communities across the country in celebrating the positive impact that we can have on the lives of children, youth and young adults when we are able to integrate positive mental health into every environment,” said [NAME AND TITLE OF PROGRAM SPOKESPERSON]. “When we focus on building resilience and social-emotional skills in young children from birth, we can help young children, youth, and their families thrive.”
In [INSERT CITY/COUNTY], [SHARE RELEVANT LOCAL EVALUATION DATA if available].
[INSERT QUOTE FROM YOUTH OR FAMILY MEMBER ABOUT WHAT AWARENESS DAY MEANS TO THEM]
[SHORT DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PROGRAM HERE THAT SAYS WHAT IT IS, WHEN IT WAS ESTABLISHED, HOW IT IS FUNDED, WHY IT EXISTS, WHO IT HELPS, AND ITS GEOGRAPHICAL SERVICES AREA.]
Celebrate National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day with [YOUR CITY NAME]-Based [YOUR PROGRAM NAME]
Calling all children’s mental health advocates! On [DAY OF THE WEEK], [DATE], [YOUR CITY]-based [YOUR PROGRAM NAME] will join 1,100 communities across the country in celebrating the HYPERLINK "http://www.samhsa.gov/" Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to raise awareness about the importance of positive mental health from birth. Show your support for young people and take part in this celebration by [INCLUDE ACTIVITY FOR PARTICIPATION].
This year, the national Awareness Day launch event—taking place in Washington, DC and featuring Honorary Chairperson [CELEBRITY NAME]—highlights [ANNUAL FOCUS]. [YOUR PROGRAM NAME] will host [DESCRIPTION OF EVENT] involving more than [EXPECTED NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS] from [NAME(S) OF AREA(S)]. [INCLUDE OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION HERE]. [IF EVENT/PROGRAM ADDRESSES THE NATIONAL FOCUS ON YOUNG ADULTS, INSERT DETAILS HERE].
[SHOWCASE HUMAN INTEREST ANGLE BY HIGHLIGHTING LOCAL IMPACT OF PROGRAM ON ONE PARTICULAR YOUTH OR FAMILY.]
Awareness Day is SAMHSA’s annual observance of the importance of caring for every child’s mental health—and it provides an opportunity to celebrate the positive impact we can have on the lives of young people. We hope that you are able to join us and take part in the celebration. For more information, please contact [INCLUDE CONTACT NAME AND PHONE AND/OR EMAIL ADDRESS].
A drop-in article is a type of news article that is written for direct insertion in community and weekly newspapers.
How To Write a Good Drop-in
- Familiarize yourself with the article format and style found in weekly and community newspapers and mirror it as best you can.
- Briefly articulate messages and facts about your program and children’s and youth’s mental health needs in an interesting way.
- Make your article engaging and newsworthy.
- Keep it short, sweet, and easy to read. Limit your article to no more than 600 words and tailor it to an eighth grade reading level. Use bullet points to pull out important topics, and format the information so that the most important information is in the first part of the article.
- Give your article a direct link to the local audience.
- Before sending your article, find out what format the publications prefer (print vs. electronic, PDF vs. Word, etc.).
Where to Send a Drop-in
The more places that receive your drop-in, the higher the odds for placement. Consider sending the article to:
- Community newspapers
- School newsletters or newspapers
- Supermarket news handouts
- E-blasts to your mailing list
- PTA/PTO newsletters
- School administration publications
Op-eds — short for “opposite the editorial page” — can be a great way to speak directly to your audiences through the media about your program. Your op-ed can make a direct appeal to local newspaper readers. It can ask them to pay attention to the strengths of children, youth, and families and to support your program as an effective and efficient way to help children and youth with mental health needs. Specifically, you should cover:
- Why this day is important to children, youth, families, and your community
- Brief, general information about your activities or event to show why your op-ed is newsworthy
- Whom you help
- What your program does and how it is unique
- Your program’s successes
In addition to these basics, you should end with a call to action. You may urge your readers to attend your National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day activities to learn more about your services and supports, to refer a child or adolescent who might be overcoming mental health needs, or to educate state or local representatives. These suggestions are meant to stimulate ideas; feel free to develop a call to action of your own that meets your program’s specific needs and goals.