Mental health is an important aspect of one's life; one cannot function well without it. Mental health can help you be more productive and effective at work, in school, and in caring for yourself and others. It helps you adjust to life changes and deal with hardship, both of which are important for the quality of your relationships. According to the World Health Organization "There is no health without mental health.” During a lifetime, not all people will experience a mental illness, but everyone will struggle or have a challenge with their mental well-being." Mental illnesses create distress and difficulties in social, occupational, and familial activities due to changes in emotions, thoughts, or behaviors.

If it's so important, why aren't people talking about it?

Let's talk about the stigma that surrounds mental illness, and how people often suffer in silence because they are afraid of being judged as weak or insecure, or as someone who can't manage their mental health. Why should they have to suffer alone? It's not fair to them or the others who care about them. What can we do to help them feel more at ease? How can we overcome the stigma? For starters, stop shaming and blaming those who are dealing with mental illnesses.

You should never shame or blame someone who suffers from a mental illness; for one thing, you have no right to judge, and for another, you have no control over developing one. Mental illness, like death, it doesn’t discriminate. Mental illness has no regard for age, gender, location, wealth, social status, race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, background, or any other aspect of cultural identity; it can affect anyone.

Is it a lack of knowledge?

People automatically associate mental illness with someone who is crazy, sick, or on medication. People aren't always willing to educate themselves and perform study to fully understand mental health illnesses and how they affect people, nor are they always willing to learn how to interact with someone who is suffering from one.

Could it be related to culture?

I've worked with a wide range of clients in the child welfare and social care fields, all with varied origins and beliefs. I once had a conversation with a parent who stated, "I am too healthy to have a sick child." It's unfortunate that individuals have such a narrow outlook, but I see how their lack of understanding affects their perception of the situation.

Some parents have children who suffer from mental illnesses or developmental delays, and these children are shunned, and their needs are unmet. Even when they are aware that something is wrong, some parents choose to turn the other cheek rather than seek the treatment, evaluation, and resources that their kid may require to manage their illness. The child will grow up to struggle with their illness, which will worsen as they get older.

Is it the media?

People with mental illnesses are often portrayed in the media as violent, impulsive, unstable, or criminal. Is the media portraying these individuals who only want to be heard, understood, and supported as people to avoid?

We've all dealt with or are dealing with mental health issues; remember, you don't need a diagnosis to relate. So, how do we break the stigma?

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • We should talk about it more, be more open about it, and if you're willing to share your own story and how you overcome it, keep in mind that you might be able to help someone going through a similar experience.

  • We should invest in more mental health services and providers because there are a shortage of psychologists, psychiatrists, and mentors, as well as long waiting lists and expensive costs.

  • Educating yourself and others will help you start more dialogues that promote empowerment over shame.

Remember the phrase "it takes a village"? It takes a village to remove the stigma associated with mental illness.

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  • Creatively W R

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which defines children's rights to protection, education, health care, shelter, and proper nourishment, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1959. The Convention on the Rights of the Child describes a child as a person, a member of the family and community, with age and developmentally appropriate rights and obligations. The Convention firmly emphasizes the focus on the overall child by recognizing children's rights in this way.

Children's rights are a subset of human rights that deal specifically with the protection and care that children are entitled to. Children's rights are vital since they apply to their survival, development, and protection against abuse, neglect, and exploitation, as well as their right to participate in familial, cultural, and social life. People often forget that children are individuals, with the same basic human rights as adults, as well as additional rights that recognize their special needs. Parents, children are not your property or helpless objects, they are human beings who have their own set of rights!

We recognize the need, but what is the government doing to ensure that children's rights are respected in the United States? Consider all the children who have been separated from their families and have been trafficked or died because of this president's negligence to the border crisis. I'm simply highlighting border policies that facilitate human trafficking, which includes both adults and children. While some countries' constitutions have sections dedicated to children's rights, the United States continues to struggle to prove that it cares for and protects its children. The United States has a long way to go in terms of strengthening and safeguarding children's access to their rights. According to the UAB human rights center, the United States has been complicit in the violation of many children's rights. Children have suffered and continue to live in poverty, with parents who lack job security, some who do not attend school, and others who do not receive adequate judicial retribution.

It's April 2022, and all I've heard and seen are news of children being murdered or seriously hurt. Children of all ages are being murdered by other children, and court systems are failing to protect children by keeping them with unstable caregivers and in abusive homes. Yes, I understand that if a child-protective agency has reasonable cause, they can file a petition with the Family Court to have assistance in the child's protection. The problem with judicial system is that they may not allow children to express their choices, instead making decisions for them or pressuring them into making a specific option. In some circumstances, the judge is on the side of the parent, and the child is returned to the parent. I realize that the goal is to reunite the child with his or her family, but what happens if there is sufficient evidence that the child cannot thrive in this environment? How can you be sure you're making the best choice for the child? Who says you must make that choice? Why not inquire as to what the child desires? Let's face it, they're the ones who must deal with the consequences of your decision. As a social worker who has worked in the foster care system, I've seen countless examples where this has occurred, and cases like these make my mind spin.

Let's face it, some of these agencies have poor service quality; you have some staff who care and want to help, and others who are burned out and don't. The process is shaky, and children are sometimes put with foster parents who are not always looking out for their best interests. Adult figures in these children’s’ lives, such as teachers, mentors, tutors, and care providers, see them daily and can detect when a child is being mistreated but refuse to report it.

So, what can we do to help protect children's rights in the United States? What are some approaches to improving children's access to their rights? Sponsoring a child, adopting a child, becoming a foster parent, donating, and praying are all obvious possibilities, but it’s not enough. Donating and sponsoring children has been polluted by greed and dishonesty, making it difficult for people to give because they have no idea where the money is going. To be honest, it's tough to say; we need more petitions, groups, and compassionate and sincere people to speak up.

Finally, I'd want to leave you with a quote from the world vison, “we believe every child deserves a childhood, surrounded by protective families and communities, free from violence, and with the opportunity to thrive and the experience the abundant life god promised.”

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  • Creatively W R

Child Abuse Prevention is being observed this month. Child abuse is a national tragedy that kills three children every day and affects millions of children and families each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. It's critical that we all work together to form and support families so that tragedies like this don't happen all the time; in fact, tragedies like this shouldn't happen at all.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was signed into law on January 31st, 1974, and is the most important federal law addressing child abuse and neglect. The goal of CAPTA is to provide comprehensive care to child abuse victims and future victims by integrating services from several agencies, including legal, educational, mental health, and social service organizations. The following is a breakdown of the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act's definition of abuse and neglect:

  • Neglect is defined as failing to meet a child's basic needs.

  • Neglect can be physical, mental, or financial (e.g., lack of appropriate supervision or failure to provide necessary food, shelter, or medical care).

  • Emotional (for example, ignoring a child's emotional needs or exposing a child to domestic abuse).

  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs).

Brain damage, developmental delays, learning disabilities, relationship issues, violent behavior, and depression have all been related to abuse and neglect. Survivors of child abuse and neglect are more likely to face problems later in life, such as poor academic performance, drug use, teen pregnancy, and criminal activity, all of which impact not only the kid and family but society as well. Let's pause for a moment and dissect that. Even though the social cost may be minimal in comparison to an individual's traumatic experience, it's important to remember that abuse has long-reaching effects that extend well beyond the homes where it occurs.

The Administration for Children and Families is committed to assisting families by promoting policies that strengthen marriage and assist parents in raising their children in a happy and healthy environment. It's 2022, and I've been asking myself the same questions for the past few years since despite all the policies and resources in place, child abuse and neglect continue to be a global issue. Who is fighting for these children? Who is helping these kids? Who's protecting these kids? So, what can we do as a country to assist prevent child abuse and neglect? They go into detail in the community resource packet, titled "Gateways to Prevention," identifying ways that individuals can help increase awareness and techniques that can be implemented. The following items are listed:

  • Child Abuse Prevention Overview: Definitions and statistics on child abuse and neglect are provided, as well as an overview of why prevention is so important in dealing with the issue.

  • What Organizations Can Do: They can suggest activities and materials for preventing child abuse, as well as resources for dealing with the media.

  • What Individuals Can Do: Provide information on how to prevent child abuse and neglect, how to spot and report suspected maltreatment, and parenting tips.

  • Resource Directories: Provide information on national organizations that are working to prevent child abuse in conjunction with their state and local chapters, as well as organizations that can provide technical assistance.

  • Posters: These strategies are listed to help people better understand their role in preventing child abuse.

The four fundamental categories of childhood abuse are neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. While each of the categories might be experienced independently, they are witnessed together. I'd like you to realize that both boys and girls are as vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Children of all races and ethnicities are affected by child abuse. Many people believe that domestic violence just affects women, but it also impacts men.

According to statistics from the domestic violence hotline database, domestic abuse not only affects a child's mental health but also affects their ability to focus and learn in school. In these children's life, failure to achieve in school might lead to even more significant issues. Even if a child is not directly harmed, he or she will be exposed to domestic violence in the family. They are still affected by the scenario's stress. Children who witness domestic abuse experience increased tension, worry, and emotional challenges.

“Abused women are 70 percent more likely to get heart disease, 80 percent more likely to have a stroke, and 60 percent more likely to develop asthma," according to the report. These health problems add to survivors' misery while also putting additional strain on the healthcare system. According to the CDC, the cost of healthcare can reach more than $4.1 billion, yet some of that money is lost in lost productivity owing to injuries and premature mortality. Here are some ideas for what we can do as a society:

  • We need to invest more into after-school programs and facilities with crisis workers, counselors, therapists, and mental health care workers who can provide a safe refuge for children who are being harmed at home.

  • We need to invest more in parent education programs, and in some situations, parents who have proved that they are unsuitable to parent or have children in the home should be obliged to attend. We should make it mandatory rather than providing individuals the option to participate in these programs.

  • More mentorship and respite care programs are needed to educate children healthy boundaries, how to recognize trustworthy adults, how to check with others before doing something, body limits, and how to express themselves!

For the love of Christ, we as a people should use our voices for good and support these initiatives in your communities; children, too, need to be taught about their rights. Why not make programs and services that will keep our children safe mandatory, just as you were able to make wearing a mask or taking a vaccine mandatory? Enough is enough; the children must be protected.

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