This week is National Children’s Mental Health Week, a week devoted to raising awareness about children’s mental health and the need for our families and communities to work together to help our children. As part of our observance here at Support for Special Needs, we wanted to share a terrific organization that you may not know about. The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health is a grassroots organization dedicated to giving parents and professionals the support and information they need to better serve the children in their care who may be facing mental health challenges.
The Federation consists of the national group and state-supported groups across the country, in two US territories and Canada. Dedicated to helping parents and practitioners learn from each other, the Federation was founded by parents to create community-based support systems for families struggling to find appropriate resources for their children.
“Most people think children don’t have mental health problems, that they’re just bad kids with bad parents,” says Sandra Spencer, Executive Director of The Federation. “We are sending the message that mental health problems are treatable, that children are resilient and that recovery is a goal. The other thing that we do is advocate for systems that support these children within the context of their family and their community.”
The local support groups allow parents to share resources and information, host trainings and conferences, and teach parents to be advocates for their families and their children. Several of the groups now offer mental health services as well. The national and many of the state organizations also offer training programs that bring parents together with mental health professionals to break down barriers and encourage mutual respect and encouragement.
“One of the biggest pieces of our work is creating community-based systems of care,” says Spencer. “We advocate for having family voice in the planning, implementation and delivery of services because we know that you need to have professionals and parents and caregivers in professional collaboration.”
Spencer says that because their organization is run by parents who have been there, they know that families know what they need and what their children need adding that there is no substitute for “the authentic parent voice.”
We encourage you to check them out and learn more about the important work they’re doing at the national level and your local community. Their message of family strength and empowerment resonates with our hope to support YOU, the community members here at our site.
At a Glance
The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
9605 Medical Center Drive
Rockville, MD 20850
Find your state organization here.
Become their Facebook Fan here.
Learn a Little More
This video, created by the Michigan arm of the Federation, the Association for Children’s Mental Health, gives a terrific overview of all the local organizations do.
Note: To support the site we make money on some products, product categories and services that we talk about on this website through affiliate relationships with the merchants in question. We get a small commission on sales of those products.That in no way affects our opinions of those products and services.