Thursday, May 8, 2008

Remembering Kids Who Need Help


The Tampa Tribune

Published: May 8, 2008

Today, the Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) at USF's Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute is joining the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) initiative across the United States to participate in National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: Thriving in the Community.

This day provides an important opportunity to share the message that children and youth with mental health needs - as well as their families - thrive when they have the right supports and services available.

In our state alone, the Florida Department of Children and Families estimates that 308,915 children have severe emotional challenges. SAMHSA reports that approximately 5 percent to 9 percent of our nation's children aged 9-17 experience serious emotional challenges, with many also having co-occurring substance abuse problems.

Unfortunately, despite ongoing exemplary state and local efforts, very few of these children, regardless of their race and socio-economic status, have access to the services necessary for recovery and positive youth development. These children don't just disappear. Instead, they show up in other systems, adding financial strain and overcrowding to juvenile justice, child welfare and restrictive educational settings.

CFS's mission is to generate hope and solutions for the complex issues confronting these children, their families and communities, through leadership in research, policy and practice innovation. CFS achieves this mission by being home to a range of resource centers dedicated to shaping state and federal policies and improving services and supports for children and young adults with special challenges and their families.

Together, with the efforts of other children's mental health initiatives, we must continue to improve the lives of children in Florida and across the country.

Dr. Mario Hernandez is professor and chair of the Department of Child & Family Studies, USF Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute. To access information on CFS programs, visit

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