[Tallahassee] – This week is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program is joining other advocates across the state and nation to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and its role in their healthy development from birth.
“Because the Guardian ad Litem Program works with youth who have experienced abuse, abandonment and neglect, we’ve seen the long-term effects,” says Tabitha Lambert, Circuit Director of the Guardian ad Litem program serving the 13th Judicial Circuit. “These traumas can harm children’s physical, emotional and social development, putting them at greater risk for suicide and other mental health conditions.”
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hosted the first Awareness Day in 2005 to bring national attention to the importance of caring for every child’s mental health. The theme this year is “Suicide Prevention: Strategies That Work.”
“As Guardians ad Litem, we have the ability to advocate for the right services and supports that can minimize the impact of trauma, build resilience and promote positive mental health and overall development, ” said Laurie Blades, the Program’s director of children’s behavioral health advocacy.
Local Guardian ad Litem programs are planning awareness events, and many staffers and volunteers will watch SAMHSA’s webcast on suicide prevention strategies, which will be live-streamed on Monday, May 6 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at https://www.hhs.gov/live/index.html.
“The Guardian ad Litem Program supports Awareness Day activities as an opportunity to advocate for addressing the mental health needs of the vulnerable children we represent,” said Executive Director Alan Abramowitz. “It also provides an opportunity for us to join forces with other community partners to emphasize the importance of positive mental health for all children.”
Resources for suicide prevention may be found at https://www.samhsa.gov/childrens-awareness-day/event/resources-suicide-prevention. To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Program or to become a volunteer, visit www.galtampa.org or call 813-272-5110.