A Message from Child Care Aware of Virginia

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental health is an important part of overall health and affects how we think, feel, and behave in our daily lives. For children, mental health can play a role in stress management, their ability to relate to others, and making healthy choices. This month is the perfect time to check in with yourself, your community, and especially the children in your life. We've put together some resources to help you identify, support, and normalize mental health care and treatment in children and how to support yourself as a caregiver. For more information about mental health advocacy, education, support, and public awareness, visit the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Virginia website.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Illness in Children - Know the Signs

Children can develop the same mental health conditions as adults. In fact, 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% by age 24. Mental health and developmental disorders common in children include anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and eating disorders. The average delay between the start of symptoms and diagnosis/treatment is 8-10 years, which means many children who could benefit from treatment don't get the help they need until they have been dealing with mental illness for a long time. Parents may miss the signs of mental illness because symptoms can be hard to spot or attributed to the changes associated with growing up. Visit the Mayo Clinic website for more information about recognizing the signs of mental illness in children and how to help your child.

Mayo Clinic 

See this fact sheet about mental health in children and teens.

Early Intervention

Early intervention services support young children with developmental delays or disabilities, including emotional and behavioral disorders or disabilities. Through early intervention, kids from birth to age 3 can get services at home or in the community, with a focus on increasing their participation in family and community activities. These supports and services are available for all families regardless of their ability to pay. Services begin with a referral to the central point of entry in the city or county you live in, and an intake with the Infant Toddler Connection of Virginia. Find your central point of entry below, and click the link in the picture to learn more about ITCVA.

Infant Toddler Connection of Virginia - Central Directory

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Preschool-aged children (aged 2-5) with a disability may be eligible for Early Childhood Special Education Services. Children may be referred to ECSE by a parent, teacher, or through Child Find, the process of identifying children with potential special education needs and educating the community about child development and the importance of early intervention. ECSE services are provided by local school divisions, and requests for evaluations can be made with your division's Special Education Department. Find the contact information for your local school division below, and click the link in the picture to learn more about ECSE in Virginia.

Department of Education - Education Directories

Mental Health Reading List

According to the CDC, 1 in 6 children in the US experience a mental health condition at any given time, yet most children are not exposed to mental health terminology until they're receiving treatment. Reading books about mental health is one way to help children understand emotional and learning challenges and normalize mental health treatment in a neutral environment. See this list of children's books about mental health sorted by topic created by The Child Mind Institute to help get you started.

Children's Books About Mental Health

Children's Challenging Behaviors

Children's Challenging Behaviors is a free six-hour workshop for parents of children and youth with mental health needs. In this workshop, parents learn how to understand typical behaviors versus challenging behaviors that require intervention, as well as when and how to seek help, develop parenting strategies, and discover community resources available to families and youth. Learn more about the Children's Challenging Behaviors workshop and register for the free course below.

Children's Challenging Behaviors

NAMI Basics

NAMI Basics OnDemand is a free, six-session online education program for parents, caregivers, and other family members who provide care for youth aged 22 or younger who are experiencing mental health symptoms. With NAMI Basics OnDemand, you'll learn the facts about mental health conditions and how to best support your child at home, at school, and when they're getting care. Learn more about NAMI Basics and register for the online course below.

NAMI Basics OnDemand

Self-Care for the Caregiver

As a parent, it's hard to think of anything more important than your child's well-being, and we tend to put our children's needs ahead of our own. But caring for yourself is one of the most important - and one of the most often forgotten - things you can do as a parent and caregiver. Read the article below to learn about why self-care is essential to parenting, and visit your local NAMI Affiliate to find parent support groups and services near you.

Self-Care and Parenting

Guide to Mental Health Services for Children

Finding mental health services for your child can seem like an immense challenge. Beyond the obstacles of stigma and shame, there are multiple barriers to getting help, including locating a specialist who is licensed and trained amid a national shortage. It can also be difficult to navigate the different types of services and therapies available to your child. The Child Mind Institute has created a guide to help you through the steps of finding the best professional or team for your child, and how to ensure your child is getting the quality care he or she deserves. See the guide below.

Complete Guide to Getting Good Care

Talking to Children About Their Mental Health

Having the right conversations with your child opens the lines of communication and helps you keep an eye out for the warning signs of mental health issues. Talking with your child about mental health topics can be uncomfortable, which is often due to the stigma involved, lack of information, or fears of possible blame. Openly talking to your child about mental health is a great way to help decrease stigma and show them that mental health is nothing to be ashamed of or fearful of. See this guide from NAMI for more.

How to Talk To Your Child About Their Mental Health

More Resources for Parents

The Child Mind Institute is dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. If you're concerned about your child but not sure where to start, their Resource Finder is an excellent tool to find relevant resources. Click the link in the picture, and visit their Family Resource Center linked in the button for more parent information and education.

Family Resource Center

Trauma-Informed Care

Childhood trauma is common and can have lifelong impacts, creating changes to our biology, genetics, behavior, and a myriad of lifetime health impacts. In fact, one out of four children in the US will experience a traumatic event or circumstances - such as abuse or neglect, death of a loved one, or community violence - by the time they turn 16. Trauma-informed care recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role trauma may play in an individual's life. Ask your child care provider if they've taken one of our free training courses in Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Responsive care. Visit the Trauma-Informed Parent website to learn more about trauma-informed parenting.

Trauma Informed Parent

Child Care Aware of Virginia | www.vachildcare.com

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