Singer/songwriter Mary Lambert joined U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in commemorating the 10th anniversary of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.
The national event, Strengthening Communities by Integrating Care, highlighted strategies for best supporting the needs of children, youth, and young adults with mental and substance use disorders by coordinating behavioral health with primary health care, education, and child welfare.
Leaders from co-hosting organizations — including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Foundation, the Clinton Foundation's Health Matters Initiative, and The Jed Foundation — welcomed a live audience as well as webcast viewers from across the country. MTV and Facebook livestreamed the event to their vast audiences as well.
Lambert served as honorary chairperson of the event at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, DC, where Secretary Burwell presented her with a SAMHSA Special Recognition Award for her efforts to promote openness about mental health, particularly among children, youth, and young adults with mental and substance use disorders.
“Mary’s fearless honesty has helped make her a role model and a source of encouragement for young people struggling to accept themselves,” said Secretary Burwell. “We applaud her tremendous resilience, her willingness to educate and support others, and for showing that it’s okay to discuss mental health needs.”
Through her interviews and musical credits, including the Grammy-nominated single, “Same Love,” performed with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Lambert has worked to break down barriers by discussing issues related to her experience as a proud member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. During the event, Lambert performed her hit single “Secrets,” a song that addresses her personal experiences with childhood trauma and bipolar disorder.
“Growing up is difficult for anyone, but for those of us who experience mental disorders or childhood abuse, it can be especially challenging. As an artist living with bi-polar disorder, there are days when it is an accomplishment to just get out of bed.” said Lambert. “The sooner we can be honest about our own experiences, the sooner we can focus on our own self-love and self-care. I feel incredibly honored to share my story and be a part of the 10th anniversary of Awareness Day.”
Also during the program, previous national event participants Qaiel Peltier, Aneja Rentiri, and Lorrin Gehring, as well as family member Oliver Coleman, highlighted cutting-edge programs that integrate behavioral health with primary health care, child welfare, and education.
Featured programs included MYCHILD (Boston, MA); Denver Health, School Based Health Centers (Denver, CO); TraumaSmart (Kansas City, MO); Safe Schools/Healthy Students (Lancaster, PA); and Typical or Troubled, School Mental Health Education Program, along with the Child and Family Services Agency (Washington, DC).
“Integrating services and supports is essential to recovery,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Recovery from mental and substance use disorders means having good health, a safe and stable home, purpose in life, and being part of the community.”
SAMHSA’s Awareness Day national event will kick off activities in more than 1,100 communities and more than 140 public and private collaborating organizations across the country.
For more information about Awareness Day, new publications, or to view the live webcast of the event, click here.