Finding Help, Finding Hope is our awareness campaign for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Below is a comprehensive toolkit for your community to adapt and use as a guideline. We will continually update this page with more information regarding events in your area.
- Strategic Plan
- Stand Up and Soar for Children’s Mental Health
- Art Contest
- Social Media
- Creative Partnerships
- Austin Event
- Tropical – Harlingen Event
- The Center for Health Care Services
- Rural Children’s Initiative
- Tarrant County
- Community Checklist
- Exhibitor Form
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is dedicated to recognizing the importance of children’s mental health as part of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Public Awareness and Support Strategic Initiative. In Texas, awareness is more important than ever. One in five children and youth have a diagnosable mental health need.This could be due to lack of knowledge and access, or stigma. Whatever the reason, children and families need to know it’s okay to seek help. So help us recognize Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week on Saturday, April 30 and Stand Up and Soar for Children’s Mental Health! In coordination with the national theme, the theme for this year’s event is “Finding Help, Finding Hope.”
The Texas System of Care has created a public awareness campaign to support SAMHSA’s key messages: to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth. We aim to reach parents, youth and families across Texas who may be struggling with mental health issues through guerilla marketing, social media, creative partnerships and press. Below we outline each tactic, and how our champions can personalize and apply those strategies to their individual communities.
Press Release: A press release is an announcement containing the who, what, where, when and why of an event. It should be sent out to all relevant organizations, including but not limited to local media, your mayor and local politicians’ offices, commissioner’s court, relevant university groups and community stakeholders. Press releases should be one page and distributed soon before the event. A press release is not the same as a media advisory.
Media Advisory: A media advisory serves as an invitation for media to attend your event. Local media is an efficient and cost-free way to raise awareness for your organization’s efforts surrounding Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. After sending your media advisory, call your local TV stations and ask if they can add an event to their “daybook.” This daybook contains daily, local events for coverage consideration. It should be distributed 5 – 7 days before the event.
Pitching Media: E-mail morning producers from your local TV station as well as event calendars from community papers with event details. You should tie your event to a news hook to secure coverage, as well as offer an expert from your organization to discuss children’s mental health. Be sure to include the example press release with your pitch.
Opinion Pieces: We also encourage your organization to submit an opinion editorial (op-ed) to a local paper for consideration. An op-ed should be no longer than 750 words and have a clear takeaway or call to action. You should submit the op-ed approximately a week or two prior to Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, giving editors a chance to review the piece. Successful op-eds typically contain current news information to keep the piece relevant, whether that is legislation, the awareness day or a current event. You can find example mental health op-eds here:
- Mental health of children should be priority for all by Molly Lopez
- Childhood trauma exacts long, expensive toll by Josette Saxton, Texans Care for Children
- Getting past the polite silence on mental illness by Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times
In 2013 the NFL fined Brandon Marshall, a player from the Chicago Bears, $10,500 for wearing green shoes on the field in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011, and has been a vocal advocate for awareness ever since. SAMHSA has identified a green ribbon with mental health awareness for many years. We plan to continue the color association by encouraging participants to wear green shoes during the event. Green shoelaces or pinning a green ribbon to shoes are also cost-efficient options. We suggest a mile long walk to match all fitness levels. We strongly encourage you to reach out to your city’s event department to secure all necessary city permits with as much lead time as possible.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Texas System of Care are proud to announce the 2016 Children’s Mental Health Awareness Creative Arts Contest! Texas elementary, middle and high school students are invited to submit their best work highlighting why Children’s Mental Health Matters. The three categories for entries are: Creative Writing, Poster Art and Video Art. Winners in each category will receive special prizes and have their work displayed in the Texas Capitol during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in May and on both the DSHS and Texas System of Care Websites. Winners will also receive special recognition at our Children’s Mental Health Awareness Walk and Rally kickoff event at the State Capitol April 30th. All entries must be received by March 1, 2016.
Social Media offers a cost-efficient way to cross promote efforts. We will continue our Stand Up to Stigma social media campaign this year. We invite everyone to take photos of their green shoes (green shoe selfies) and post them to our Facebook page. Below is an example from 2014:
Also, below are sample tweets and Facebook posts folks can use to spread the word:
- Today is CMHAD! Communities in TX are #findinghelpfindinghope
- Fact: 1/5 kids have #mentalhealth needs. Today let’s make sure they know they can #findhelpfindhope
- We hope you have your green shoes & kites ready. Lets #standupandsoar for #CMHAD! #TxSOC
- Be a voice for children’s #mentalhealth. #CMHA Week 2016, Let’s all #findhelpfindhope
- #Standupandsoar for children’s #MH. Join our #CMHA Event: [LINK TO YOUR EVENT]
- Today is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day! Communities across Texas will Find Help, Find Hope in support of raising awareness for children’s mental health. Will you stand with us?
- One in Five children and youth have a diagnosable mental health need. Let’s make sure they know we care, and that a group of devoted people are working hard daily to change this. Stand up and Soar with us on Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Join our event here: [LINK TO YOUR EVENT] #FindingHelpFindingHOpe
- Today we’ll be Finding Help, Finding Hope for children’s mental health. Wear your green shoes and join us! Open to all but please register here: [Registration Link]
- In support of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week please share & change your profile picture to our Awareness Week logo:
In order to hold a successful event we will seek out creative partnerships within our communities. Possible partnerships include parents, colleagues, mental health providers, local businesses and youth serving organizations. You can find a sample letter of interest here:
Date: April 30, 2016
Location: The walk will begin at the South Steps of the Austin State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Please park in the Capitol Visitor’s Garage (Free on weekends) at 1201 San Jacinto Blvd. Following the walk we will begin kite flying, games, raffles and more at Wooldridge Square Park at 900 Guadalupe Street.
Time: We will gather at the Capitol at 9 AM to hear a family’s story and begin our walk at 9:30; We anticipate park activities to begin at 10 AM. We would like to extend a thanks to Senator Jane Nelson, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, for serving as our legislative sponsor for this year’s event.
More information to come!
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More information to come!