National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 2019
Awareness Day Celebrations Continue throughout May
During the first week of May, local communities nationwide began celebrations for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day that will extend throughout the entire month. We highlighted just a few below: resource fairs, a statewide film festival, Q&A between young adults and their legislators at a state capitol, and so much more. But Awareness Day celebrations extend beyond just one day, one week, or the few stories we were able to share.
In fact, to learn how you can keep the momentum going after your own Awareness Day event, stay tuned for our upcoming tip sheet by joining the Social Marketing Learning Community at Ideas@TheInstitute.
For inspiration, here are a few more highlights on mental health organizations across the U.S. and what they’re doing this month to celebrate Awareness Day.
Awareness Day Takes Over Times Square
The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (NFFCMH) broadcast Awareness Day messages in the city that never sleeps. The NFFCMH had the opportunity to partner with Strictly Media, one of the companies who manages marquees in Time Square. From May 5th–12th, Awareness Week original artwork, developed in partnership with Public Good, coupled with mental health facts and statistics were broadcast from three different marquees in New York City. “It was a rare and wonderful experience to spread awareness with a large audience,” said Kelsey Engelbracht, Project Manager at the NFFCMH.
The Celebrations Don't Stop in Mississippi!
Mississippi is hot when it comes to Awareness Day celebrations! On Saturday, May 18th, Crossover Xpand will host a day of fun and resource-sharing in Hattiesburg, MS. “There will be information about mental health services and other community resources available to children in the area,” said Kameo Allen, the social marketer at Crossover Xpand. “The event is to help educate parents and caregivers on strategies to reduce suicide among children and young adults.” Everyone can enjoy food, games, popcorn, live music—all for free. The event will end with a biodegradable balloon-releasing ceremony in which attendees can release a balloon in memory or support of a loved one with mental health challenges.
Massachusetts Goes Green
The Pennsylvania state capitol isn’t the only structure getting lit up in green. The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health partnered with Youth MOVE Massachusetts for a ceremony to see the Burns Bridge in Worcester, MA, light up green, too! The ceremony is preceded by a reception where young adults will share their recovery stories, an exhibit of artwork, and sharing sessions with the artists themselves. And that’s not all; Boston lit up the Zakim Bridge and their City Hall, too. The entire event is a collaboration between several mental health organizations in the state.
Pascua Yaqui Tribe Turned Every Day in May a Reason to Celebrate
That’s barely an exaggeration. For Sewa Uusim (Pascua Yaqui), the Awareness Day celebrations began in April. With more than 28 days (and 28 events), they made sure there was something for everyone’s interests. Some days, they’re hosting a bullying-prevention workshop. Other days, they’re hosting family movie nights and screening mental health awareness films. And that’s not accounting for the 5K run, the resource fair, the LGBTQ staff training, and so much more. There’s an event that’s sure to engage every type of person on their schedule. Sometimes less is more, but in this case, more is more.
The celebrations don’t stop just because it’s no longer May 9. Local communities all across the country are building mental health awareness among countless youth and families this month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and search the #HeroesOfHope and #ChildrensMentalHealth hashtags to see even more as organizations post.
During the week of May 6, we sent you one story from the field each day to show how communities were leveraging Awareness Day to position their organizations as leaders in building awareness about mental health services, challenging negative perceptions, and changing people’s attitudes and behaviors toward mental health challenges. Enjoy the stories we shared, now posted below.
Minnesota Takes Its First Steps for Awareness Day
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (St. Paul, MN) is celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day for the first time. Ensuring that youth voice was prominent in the celebration was most important to the Minnesota System of Care, but they also wanted to reach local partners and youth-serving systems staff. How do you blend those two goals together?
Young adults who are actively involved in their planning group helped come up with the concept for the day: Partnering with Youth. The event will be held at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) with state-level human services, health, corrections, and education staff as a way of educating professionals on authentic youth engagement. “Our event will feature young adults describing the history of youth leadership in the state,” said Melorine Mokri, the Social Marketing Communications Specialist at Minnesota DHS. The idea is to instill a sense of opportunity to partner with youth in systems change work.
That’s why it was important that the message reverberate statewide with clear action steps—so much so, they made a metaphor of it. “The event will end with an activity where participants fill out shoe-shaped cards,” Melorine said. “It’ll correspond with shoe events at local high schools where each one will describe ‘one step forward’ they’ll take to promote partnering with youth in their everyday work.”
Melorine is excited about the creativity of the event, considering it’s the Minnesota DHS’s first time celebrating. They expect 70 people in-person and hope to do a live-stream. “The takeaway is that children’s mental health awareness isn’t just a one-day or one-month thing,” Melorine said. “None of this is business as usual for Minnesota.”
Lights, Camera, Action! Hawaii Builds Awareness through Film
Hawaii has been celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day for eight years, but this one promises to be their biggest yet. For Awareness Day 2019, a statewide committee, including Kaeru Services , is getting every island in Hawaii to be part of the action. First, there will be a mayoral proclamation in every county for the day, as well as a proclamation by the governor and a celebration statewide. Second, each island will hold its own “mini resource fairs,” where mental health agencies will reach out to the community and grow awareness of their services. Third, champions for the cause will gather at major intersections across the state to sign wave—it’s a way to get the message out because there are no billboards in Hawaii.
And that’s not all.
Hawaii is also hosting a statewide art contest and screening short films by young adults, too, all promoted on their dedicated Awareness Day site.
Erica Yamauchi, the Social Marketing Director at Kaeru Services, one of the partners in a statewide committee celebrating Awareness Day, said the planning all began by developing deep partnerships. “There were a couple years where we didn’t do much because our relationships had waned,” she said. “So, relationship-building was our number one priority. We asked everyone, ‘What are you doing?’ It’s been fruitful.”
Those partnerships include the statewide public school system and Hawaii Women in Filmmaking, a local nonprofit encouraging women to make films. “We really wanted to reach out to public schools,” Erica said. “That was our target audience.” Students across the state will get information about children’s mental health and be encouraged to submit original art to the Awareness Day contest. The winners will be given prizes and celebrated at a film screening event where several films that discuss mental health and are directed by youth will be shown, followed by a panel discussion with the directors. The film screening is something they’re all enthused about, as there’s a huge filmmaking culture in Hawaii. “In building our committee, we thought: ‘Who could bring something new?’ Hawaii Women in Filmmaking did just that. They helped us spread the message,” Erica said.
“I’m really excited that they’re telling the story,” she continued. “They’re not coming from us professionals. It’s the youth.”
Maryland Lets Youth Design their Awareness Day Plans
This year, the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency (Annapolis, MD) let the young adults on its social marketing subcommittee decide what the best way was to celebrate Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Their brainstorming session led them to a button design contest. “Students regularly attach buttons on their backpacks,” said Kristin Melton, the Social Marketing Lead for Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency. “Our youth thought that a button design contest would be a great way to engage youth before and on Awareness Day.” It helps, too, that they have a strong partnership with the county school system, providing a large distribution channel with print, social media, and in-person sharing opportunities.
The contest will be coupled with their third Annual Children & Youth Mental Health Awareness Day Event held at the local community college. Attendees will be able to enjoy chair massages, jazzercise sessions, vision board activities, and more. But the heart of the event is the 30 community organizations who will be providing resources and information to the community about the services available to them; in addition, the event will feature speakers from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and a parent with lived experience.
They expect around 200 participants for their event and for their contest to be a hit in schools and on social media. Why? All aspects of the contest and their Awareness Day event were planned by the social marketing committee, which is comprised of young adults, family members, and partners. “These committee members are aware of the need to find ways to engage other youth and families in ways that will appeal to them,” Kristin said.
First image: Graphic Button Design Winner: Priscilla A. Thompson, Freshman @ Broadneck Senior High School
Second image: Slogan Button Design Winner: Ahamed Chowdhury, Junior @ Glen Burnie High School
Pennsylvania Lights Up the Town this Awareness Day
Storytelling is one of the most powerful social marketing tools. Young adults with lived experience in the mental health system are the experts of their own stories. That’s why Pennsylvania Care Partnership (Harrisburg, PA) collaborated with Youth MOVE PA to make mental health the main topic at their State Capitol. They’ve invited young adults to speak, to learn more about the government process, and to ask their legislators questions about mental health policy. Plus, the Capitol building will be lit up in green for mental health all Awareness Week!
“We want to promote advocating for yourself when it comes to mental health issues,” said Jamal Ford, the Youth Resources Coordinator at Pennsylvania Care Partnership. Jamal and Zack Karenchack, Policy and Program Development Coordinator at Youth MOVE PA, believe there’s only one good way to do that, and storytelling plays a big role. That’s why it was crucial to involve young adults and families in their planning process for this event and for a resource fair later in the week. “They keep us honest, they keep us on our toes, and they make sure we’re being inclusive,” said Zack.
The end goal: “We’re trying to lessen stigma,” Jamal said. “The more we talk about it, the more we get the word out that it’s important, we’ll see real change. Mental health affects us on a daily basis—everyone. That’s the message we want to get out.”
If your event includes public speaking, it’s always best to ensure the young adults and family members who will be sharing their stories are well-prepared. Feel free to provide them the Communicating Your Main Point Worksheet on our website as they craft their speech.
Mississippi Pulls Out all the Stops this Awareness Day
Families as Allies Knows its Audience
This year, Families as Allies (Jackson, MS) will be celebrating Awareness Day by holding its fifth annual resource fair in a trendy neighborhood known for monthly street fairs. Five years ago, they asked the organization responsible for the monthly street fairs if they could be part of the festivities for May. Why? For the built-in audience.
“It starts late in the afternoon, when lots of families come out to have a good time,” said Dominic DeLeo, Director of Communications for Families as Allies. “Then later at night, young people come out. It’s a great way to reach our target audiences.” Dozens of local businesses show up each month, but for Awareness Day, the streets are dominated by mental health organizations and youth-serving agencies all providing information about the services available to the community. During the day, families can participate in fun activities, and at night, the tables are set up right next to the restaurants and bars frequented by young adults. This way, they cast as wide a net as possible in their reach. “The fair brings people from all over the city—not just that one neighborhood. We’re reaching people where they already are. There was no need to do something else.” They expect 5,000 people and about 25 partner organizations to be in attendance. And if that wasn’t enough of a reach, they’re also planning a press conference with a mayoral proclamation later in the month.
If you know your audience, you’ll know exactly how to reach them. Use the Audience Segmentation Worksheet on our website to better reach your target audiences.
Canopy Children’s Solutions Races Toward Mental Health Awareness
Canopy Children’s Solutions (Mississippi statewide) is hosting its sixth annual Children’s Mental Health Summit during Awareness Week. The summit is open to anyone who works with children or youth; it’s a two-day event including panel speakers and breakout sessions.
“We like to get everyone in the same room and start talking about the issues,” said Kym Williams, Director of Public Relations at Canopy Children’s Solutions. The summit will tackle several issues, including the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, stigma-free workplaces, and how incarceration of parents affects youth mental health. “There will be a panel of local businesses speaking about mental health in the workplace. We even have a judge who will be at the summit speaking about judiciary efforts to reduce stigma.”
The hopes are to get everyone in the field together and working toward a common goal, the theme of the summit: Erasing the stigma of mental health. The summit will be complemented by a 5K run event targeted toward a more general audience, but with the same objective. “We want people to see just health, not mental health. They’re connected. If one in five people experienced a physical health issue, there would be a public uproar.”
You’re invited to join our Social Marketing Learning Community at Ideas@TheInstitute to share and learn communications strategies from systems of care social marketers nationwide.
Haters Gonna Hate, but NFusion DeSoto Is Gonna Shake, Shake, Shake
NFusion DeSoto (Southaven, MS) took on bullying in its community—with a full morning of dancing. Family members who sit on NFusion DeSoto’s governance board voted to have an Anti-Bullying Zumbathon at the local YMCA. The event was held on May 4, YMCA’s Community Healthy Kids Day, a day in which their facilities were open to the entire public which allowed NFusion DeSoto to reach more people than if they’d used their own space. Not only did local Zumba instructors volunteer their time to lead classes, but the event also featured two keynote speakers who have experienced the suicide of a child.
“We are hoping we get people talking about the effects of bullying on our children,” said Tracy Humphrey, Project Director at NFusion DeSoto. “For too long, children have been taught to either go tell a teach, to ‘suck it up,’ to pretend it didn’t happen, or to fight back. Bullying really is an epidemic, and it needs to be stopped in the correct way.”
Prior to the event, NFusion DeSoto said they expected anywhere between 100 and 150 attendees, all of whom they hoped to share resources and suicide-prevention strategies with, and to highlight the effects of bullying on children.