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May 7 Brings Focus to Children’s Mental Health

-A child's mental health is just asMay 7, 2015 marks National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. On this day, communities around the country raise awareness about the mental health needs of America’s youngest citizens. It is a day to focus on children and youth living with mental illness and to advocate for a full array of effective services and supports for children.

When a child feels intensely threatened by an event he or she is involved in or witnesses, it’s called a trauma. Child traumatic stress (CTS) is a psychological reaction that some children have to a traumatic experience. There are numerous kinds, such as:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Serious injuries
  • Acts of violence
  • Terrorism
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Medical procedures
  • The unexpected death of a loved one
  • Life-threatening natural disasters

Children who suffer from CTS have developed reactions to trauma that linger and affect their daily lives long after the traumatic event has ended. These children may experience:

  • Intense and ongoing emotional upset
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral changes
  • Difficulties at school
  • Problems maintaining relationships
  • Difficulty eating and sleeping
  • Aches and pains
  • Withdrawal
  • Substance abuse, dangerous behaviors, or unhealthy sexual activity among older children

Not every child experiences CTS after a trauma. All children are different, and many children are able to adapt to and overcome difficult events and situations. But one out of every four children will experience a traumatic event before the age of sixteen, and some of these children will develop CTS. Positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth. If left untreated, CTS can interfere with a child’s healthy development and lead to long-term difficulties with school, relationships, jobs, and the ability to participate fully in a healthy life. Fortunately, there are proven and effective treatments for CTS.

The Up Center provides a range of counseling and support services for children, families and parents. From specialized play therapy for young children, to support for military families and families with autistic children, we try to help people of all ages who are coping with life’s challenges. Many services are free or offered on a sliding fee scale. We also accept many insurances.

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Jessica Oulahan
Counseling Services Coordinator
(757) 965-8652

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