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Goldie Hawn Champions Children’s Mental Health

May 7, 2009

Washington,DC-  In honor of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Goldie Hawn, child advocate and founder of The Hawn Foundation, campaigned for effective children’s mental health programs at a Congressional briefing today.

"Children represent a fraction of our population, but 100% of our future. One in ten suffers from serious mental health disorders, and most aren’t getting the help they need. We need to address this crisis before it’s too late," Hawn said.

Working with leading neuroscientists, educators, and researchers, The Hawn Foundation developed a program for grades K-7 that improves children’s emotional and cognitive skills to help them understand and manage their own emotions, moods and behaviors; reduce stress and anxiety; sharpen concentration; increase empathy; and improve their performance in school.

"Increasing social and emotional learning skills is cost-effective and makes a big impact," Hawn said. "Congress should increase funding to scale up programs like these to save our children’s lives, save our schools, and save our nation’s money, too."

The briefing focused on investment in the educational future of children with mental health needs, a population that has the highest drop-out and failure rates and the lowest academic achievement of any disability group. The briefing was jointly hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health (National Federation).

Howard Muscott, director of the New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and Kathryn Power, director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), presented positive outcomes data from CMHS grant sites across the country. The data shows that effective children’s mental health programs promote positive youth development, recovery, and increased resiliency, allowing children with mental health needs to thrive in their communities.

The briefing also highlighted the need for congressional support for Positive Behavior for Effective Schools Act and the Mental Health in Schools Act, legislation that recognizes the partnership that must be established between schools and communities to ensure that children with mental health needs are identified and linked with effective services and supports.

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