Commentary: Mental health begins in childhood

Commentary: Mental health begins in childhood

The Salt Lake Tribune, May 26, 2019

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the foundation sustaining much of human development. From establishing healthy relationships to academic achievement, and success in the workplace, mental health has a tremendous impact on the human experience. This foundation is laid during the formative years when a child’s brain undergoes a remarkable period of growth and development.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six children between the ages of 2 and 8 has a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. Further, almost half the nation’s children have experienced at least one or more serious childhood traumas. Early diagnosis and treatment can change the trajectory of these children’s lives, yet only half access appropriate therapies.

Our community is taking major strides to address the gap between need and therapeutic care. On Wednesday, Mayor Jenny Wilson proclaimed May 21 as Salt Lake County Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, helping to bring awareness to the importance of early intervention and to dispel the stigma around mental health treatment.

While a remarkable number of our children experience mental health disorders, every child has mental health. We owe it to every child to reduce barriers to the treatments so crucial to their long term mental health and the fulfillment of their potential.

For nearly 60 years, The Children’s Center has served as an invaluable resource for our community. At both our Kearns and Salt Lake City centers, highly skilled experts provide evidence-based treatment to infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families. Whether treating everyday tantrums, life-altering traumas, or behaviors related to autism spectrum disorder, The Children’s Center is here to help establish a foundation of mental health for children and families. While best known for its Therapeutic Preschool Program, The Children’s Center also provides child and family therapy, as well as training on early intervention treatments to child care centers throughout the state.

Since its founding in 1962, The Children’s Center has kept its promise to provide services to every child and family seeking help, regardless of their ability to pay. We believe that a happy and healthy childhood should not be limited by financial means. The Children’s Center serves more than 1,800 children and their families annually, and works every day to ensure children throughout Salt Lake County and beyond have access to quality mental health.

As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, join us in demonstrating to our children that mental health matters every month, every day. Let’s sharpen our focus. Let’s make children’s mental health part of our daily conversation.Let’s give our children the tools to build a strong foundation that will support them throughout their lifetime. By building a generation of resilient children, we will create a strong and bright future for our community.

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