How do we bolster positive mental health in young children and ensure that challenges are detected early? The key is to integrate mental health prevention services into the settings where children spend their time -- at home, child care or the doctor's office.
We can support young families as they master that critical dance of development. Or we can wait to address the mental health problems of older children and adults down the road, which is not only draining for them, but also expensive for society.
This is an important month -- mental health plays a vital role in our identities. Our mental well-being is probably the most difficult muscle to exercise. One thing I do know is that it's never, never too late to practice, teach and learn.
On Feb. 12, California Attorney General Kamala Harris held a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the creation of a "Bureau of Children's Justice" with goals ranging from reducing truancy and combatting "childhood trauma" to improving the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
In the past, there would be few options left for kids like Kevin. He would have continued to bounce from one foster setting to another without much chance of getting better. Not only would he never have the love and stability of a family, but he would likely spend much of his life in jail.
It doesn't really take a letter to tell kids they are overweight. They know this, and so do their parents. If the goal is trying to help families make real changes, a letter home stating a child's BMI is not really going to do anything.
Awareness! And Awareness is what we have been focusing on this past month, as President Obama signed a proclamation declaring May as National Mental Health Awareness Month (the first president to do so!)
Last year Children's Law Center published a plan with practical recommendations to improve the children's mental health system in the District. Today, Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, we are releasing a report card that assesses progress in the areas outlined in our plan.
In the wake of the Newtown shooting, President Obama called for a national conversation about mental health. But that conversation really begins in your home and your community, and it doesn't start and stop with individual tragedies.
In the following months we will discuss school security at the national, state and school board levels and work to safeguard the physical safety and mental health of our students. At Miami-Dade County Public Schools we have taken a first step.
There have been 29 mass shootings in the United States between the events of April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School and the Dec. 14, 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I propose these shootings were, in part, a health care issue.
Growing up in the District of Columbia can be like growing up in a war zone. Every day, battles rage between adults within homes and on city streets, and far too often children bear witness to this violence.