May 9, 2012 - National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

May 9, 2012

Good Evening,  everyone.  It’s my pleasure to be part of the effort to raise awareness of the importance of caring for every child’s mental health.

We know that abuse and neglect leave a particularly traumatic fingerprint on boys and girls.  Abuse and other forms of toxic stress severely impact brain development and set the stage for the development of mental health disorders.

In fact, by the time they’re adolescents, two-thirds of the children in foster care have a least one mental health diagnosis; 20 percent have multiple diagnoses. 

When they have access to the right resources and support, young people are incredibly resilient.  When they have caring adults in their lives and when they’re given the time and tools to benefit from these positive relationships—they can experience healing and recovery.

At ACF, we try every day to make sure that all youngsters have what they need to flourish.  That means working with state child welfare systems to make sure the diagnoses that kids receive are accurate and to monitor the use of psychotropic drugs.  We are also encouraging states to institute cognitive and behavioral therapies that are just as effective as drugs, in fact, even more effective.  It also means emphasizing modalities that help maltreated kids on the road to healthy and successful adulthood.

Now, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to introduce, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Secretary Sebelius took the helm of the Department 3 years ago, on April 28 2009.  She’s led historic efforts to improve the health of all Americans and to enhance human services delivery for those most in need.

Secretary Sebelius has long been interested in the well-being of young Americans.  As Governor of Kansas, she championed the causes of strong family and high quality education for every child.  At HHS, she has worked to give every child the best possible opportunity for success in life, through increasing health and mental health care coverage, improving early learning and access to good child care and supporting innovative approaches like home visiting programs for new mothers.

Secretary Sebelius is a remarkable leader and an effective advocate for our country’s children and families.  I am proud to be a member of her team.