The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared that supporting the mental health needs of children starts early in childhood and can have lifelong impacts on overall health and wellbeing. Parents, communities, schools, and healthcare providers all play a role in addressing the mental health needs of children, but often separately, with limited coordination and collaboration.
The Children’s Mental Health Champions aim to address the needs of children with or at risk for mental disorders by building the foundation for a stronger, more inclusive mental health system for children. The Champions share common program goals, but each has its own approach that best fits the population they serve.
Childhood is a critical period that shapes long-term health and well-being, and half of all lifelong mental disorders start by the age of 14 yearsexternal icon. To support lifelong mental health, it is important to prevent problems, identify concerns early, and provide effective treatment. Parents, communities, schools, and healthcare providers all play a role in addressing the mental health needs of children to reduce problem behaviors and support child development. Many families face barriers when trying to access evidence-based prevention and intervention programs.
Through a cooperative agreement, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)external icon and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), started the Children’s Mental Health Champions program. The pilot program expanded from 6 Champions in 2020–2021 to 12 champions in 2021–2022. The current 12 Champions work within 11 states and territories as liaisons to CDC’s children’s mental health work and positive parenting resources.