Mental Health Awareness Month
May is dedicated to mental health awareness in the United States, and May 3 – 9 is designated Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week as an opportunity to bring awareness and show support for the millions of Americans who face mental health issues every year. That number has increased over the last few years as the pandemic has brought on additional stresses and changes to daily life, and the theme for 2022, “Together for Mental Health,” reflects that. Follow this link to read hundreds of personal stories surrounding mental health.
Having a strong mental health is essential to our physical health and our ability to live a full life. For children, it also affects development.
According to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, these six things contribute most to the quality of our mental health: social connections, trauma (ACEs), stress, environment, physical health, health equity, and substance abuse.
Thankfully, there are many resources available to help children, youth, families, and adults navigate mental health challenges and access the support they need.
- Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital offers children and family services such as therapy, assessment, medication services, and LGBTQIA+ specific support.
- Kids Mental Health Pierce County offers webinars, classes, and crisis services, including a free 4 week virtual therapy group for Tacoma Public Schools middle and high school teen girls this summer.
- HopeSparks offers support to relatives raising children, provides early intervention services, and more.
National Foster Care Month
Each May we recognize the important, and often heroic, role that people working within child welfare play in supporting children, youth, and families. Children and youth who experience family separation often present serious physical, mental, developmental, and psychosocial problems rooted in trauma. This year’s theme, “Relative and Kin Connections: Keeping Families Strong,” focuses on how kinship care helps maintain family connections and cultural traditions that can minimize the trauma of family separation.
Two of the organizations leading supportive services for those within child welfare in Pierce County are Amara and Treehouse.
- Amara provides an abundance of resources, support groups, and programming designed to create the best network of support possible for children and youth in the foster care system.
- Treehouse provides foster children and youth with clothing, driver’s assistance, and funding for educational, recreational, and wellness needs.
Jewish American Heritage Month
Each May we recognize and celebrate the influence Jewish people have had on American history, art, and culture.
To celebrate this observance, you can read a children’s book about Jewish history, or learn more about and get involved with a local organization that serves Jewish communities in Tacoma.
Asian American and Pacific Islander History Month
This annual month-long celebration recognizes the contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, including cultures from the entire Asian continent, to the United States. Two important historic milestones in AAPI history took place during May: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States and the contributions of Chinese workers to the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
There are several organizations in Pierce County championing the AAPI community, one of which is the Asia Pacific Cultural Center. Throughout the pandemic, APCC has shown up for its community through vaccination and testing sites, food distribution, educational programming at Blix Elementary, and other youth programs. Throughout the month of May, APCC has a variety of cultural programming and activities, including food trucks, musical performances, art displays and more, to celebrate AAPI heritage.
The state agency in Washington charged with improving the lives of Asian Pacific Americans by ensuring their access to participation in government, business, education and other areas is the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. The advisory committee is made up of 12 commissioners, three of whom in the history of the agency have been elected as Commissioner Emeriti. You can read more about one of these heroes, Lua Pritchard, here.
If you’re looking for another opportunity to learn more about the culture, art, and history of Asian Pacific Americans, visit the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle! It is the only pan-Asian Pacific American community-based museum in the country and includes exhibits and tours.
National Teacher’s Appreciation Week
The first week of May is a time to show our gratitude for educators, and we want to recognize those who care for our youngest learners. This happens in classrooms, childcare facilities, preschools, and homes across Pierce County, and we are grateful for all you do.
If you would like to join a network for early learning educators, Friends and Family Network (FFN), and caregivers, please take a moment to complete this form. Your information will not be shared and will be used for future gratitude campaigns and events.
Take this month as an opportunity to show your appreciation for a hero or change maker in your community! Show your appreciation for others by calling someone out on social media that you see creating positive change for the children and youth in our community or creating a card for your favorite teacher.
While gratitude for others is important, it is also important to step into our own power as heroes and change makers! Prioritize time for yourself and make a habit of appreciating your own work.