So, let's talk about mental health! Embedded strategies that help children learn and talk about mental health, mental illness, and interventions may help reduce the negative stigma associated with mental illness by helping bring the topic into everyday conversations and framing mental health as a positive state of functioning.1 Programs focusing on mental health promotion (e.g. stress management, health literacy, and yoga) have shown a range of positive outcomes including improved social and/or physical functioning, and reduced symptoms.2 Developing and implementing whole school strategies to teach children and youth about positive mental health might be organized for SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day which occurs annually in May (see http://beta.samhsa.gov/children/national-events/awareness-day-2014). The use of posters, bookmarks, coloring sheets and even handwriting sheets that communicate strategies for taking care of one’s mental health can be embedded in everyday practice to promote mental health literacy.
1 Bazyk, S. (Ed.). (2011). Mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention with children and youth: A guiding framework for occupational therapy. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.
2 Bazyk, S., & Arbesman, M. (2013). Occupational Therapy’s Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion, Prevention, & Intervention. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.