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By: Margaret | April 28 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers


Don’t miss the chance to hear directly from children’s mental health experts at an upcoming free event that celebrates National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Watch a videocast to learn about the state of the science in children’s mental health and explore topics ranging from normal brain development to anxiety, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

What:  Connect the Dots: Understanding Children’s Mental Health Panel
When:  May 3rd from 2:00 to 3:30 PM EST
Where:  By Videocast

The expert panel features Drs. Ellen Leibenluft, Daniel Pine, Jay Giedd, and Benedetto Vitiello and is moderated by Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Register to watch the Connect the Dots videocast.
By: Gloria, Margaret | April 4 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers


Bational Children's Mental Health Awareness Day LogoThis year’s theme is building resilience in young children who are dealing with trauma. The idea behind the Awareness Day campaign is to draw attention to the importance of good mental health for healthy development. We were surprised to find out that last year, people held Awareness Day events at more than 1,000 sites, and almost 11,000 children and youth participated in them! Visit the Awareness Day home page in the coming weeks for updates on how to
  • lead an event,
  • find one in your area, 
  • get helpful resources, and 
  • broadcast timely, useful information through Facebook, tweets, and other social media.
As part of the campaign, one agency is posting information updates online about trauma and resilience in young children. The February update is about children who’ve been exposed to five or more “significant adversities” by the time they’re three years old: three out of four of them will experience delays in cognitive, language, and/or emotional development. “With help from families, providers, and the community, young children can demonstrate resilience when dealing with trauma,” according to the post.  
The March update states, “Studies on the brain show that physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in childhood can cause permanent damage to the brain, reduce the size of parts of the brain, [and] impact the way a child’s brain copes with daily stress, and can result in enduring problems such as depression, anxiety, aggression, impulsiveness, delinquency, hyperactivity, and substance abuse.”   
On the National Institute of Mental Health Web site (NIMH), you can find a booklet for parents on how to help children cope with and identify reactions to violence and disasters. Suggestions include
  • being straightforward about the event,
  • encouraging children to express their feelings, 
  • maintaining routines, and 
  • allowing children to make some basic choices for themselves.
You can also read about results from a recent NIMH study that emphasized the importance of having supportive and functional family relationships during childhood. The researchers found that “negative experiences early in life can have long-lasting effects on physical health, in addition to the known mental health consequences.”

By: Debbie | June 10 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers


The Brain's Inner Working Cover ImageThe National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has developed the Brain’s Inner Workings: Activities for Grades 9 through 12, a comprehensive collection of multimedia resources and inquiry-based activities to help teachers and students learn about the structure, function and cognitive aspects of the human brain. All activities are tied to the National Science Education Standards. 

The educational packet includes:
  • A Teacher’s Manual, with content background and a proposed pedagogy for the use of the material;
  • A Student Manual that includes both comprehensive text and activities;
  • Two outstanding video supplements from NIMH—The Brain’s Inner Workings I: Structure and Function, which introduces the structure of the nervous system and the role of neurotransmitters in health and disease; and The Brain’s Inner Workings II: Cognition, which demonstrates how neurons work together through state-of-the-art animation.
  • Student activities to complement the visuals on the NIMH videos;
  • Formative and summative assessments;
  • Additional resources on CD including animations provided by the National Science Teachers Association, and a short computer program called “React,” which can be used to support the laboratory activities in the Student Manual or to help students extend their understanding by conducting independent research of their own.
The Brain’s Inner Workings ties together lessons about the human brain with activities designed to help students better understand brain disease and mental illnesses.

You can access most of the Brain’s Inner Workings online. For best results, however, order a free hard copy packet that includes the manuals, a DVD and a CDROM that includes all the supplemental materials plus pdfs of the manuals that can be printed and copied.

Written by Colleen Labbe, NIMH
By: Debbie | May 6 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers


Many mental disorders have their beginnings in childhood or adolescence. The National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey found that 13 percent of children ages 8 to 15 had at least one mental disorder, a rate comparable to diabetes, asthma, and other diseases of childhood. Yet, mental disorders often go undiagnosed and untreated for years.

The NIH has created a curriculum supplement, The Science of Mental Illness, for grades 6-8 that is designed to help students gain insight into the biological basis of mental illnesses and how scientific evidence and research can help us understand its causes and lead to treatments and, ultimately, cures. The Science of Mental Illness includes the following lessons and major concepts:
  • The Brain: Control Central  -- The brain is the organ that controls feelings, behaviors, and thoughts, and changes in the brain’s activity result in long- or short-term changes to these.
  • What’s Wrong? -- Mental illnesses such as depression are diseases of the brain.
  • Mental Illness: Could It Happen to Me? -- Though everyone is at risk, factors such as genetics, environment, and social influences determine a person’s propensity to develop a mental illness.
  • Treatment Works! -- Medications and psychotherapies are among the effective treatments for most mental illnesses.
  • In Their Own Words -- Includes a fascinating video of students discussing how mental illness affects their lives and how their illnesses are treated so that they can function effectively.
  • You’re the Expert Now -- Learning the facts about mental illness can dispel misconceptions.
You can access the Science of Mental Illness online, and teachers can request a free print version.

More Information about Children's Mental Health Awareness Day from the National Institute of Mental Health

Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Resources (includes podcasts and transcripts)
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