The Child Mind Institute began its annual effort to fight stigma and provide accurate information on mental illness in children on May 1.
Unlike the institute’s efforts during the previous three years, this year’s month-long Speak up for Kids campaign will be conducted entirely online and will focus on barriers to children’s mental health care.
Half of all psychiatric illness begins before age 14, and 75 percent develops before age 24, a campaign announcement pointS out.
“There’s never been a better time to focus attention on children who are struggling with psychiatric and learning disorders and the potential to transform lives through good early intervention,” said child psychiatrist Harold Koplewicz, M.D., president of the institute, in a statement. “We are at a moment when people are listening and actively trying to find solution to the barriers that keep so many kids from getting the help they need.”
The campaign originally encouraged psychiatrists and mental health professionals to give public talks about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and last year it prompted about 600 events around the country, said Kathryn Morrissey, public-education manager for the Child Mind Institute, which is based in New York.
Two observations suggested a change in the message-delivery mode from in-person settings to a virtual one. “Parents in some areas could not find a mental health professional to give a presentation,” Morrissey told Psychiatric News. “And many parents did not feel comfortable talking about these issues in an open, public setting.”
As a result, Speak Up for Kids will now use hundreds of short, online videos that address barriers to providing mental health care to the children who need it. In addition, there will be 16 webcasts featuring nationally known mental health experts such as Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Nora Volkow, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Advocates like former congressional representative Patrick Kennedy, co-founder of the brain-research organization One Mind for Research, will also participate.
This year’s campaign will provide materials designed to stimulate offline discussions or facilitate viewing parties. These materials include articles and videos by experts and a “Parents’ Guide to Getting Good Care.” ■