Editorial: Take this week to become aware, because 'Children's Mental Health Matters!'

On Thursday, Carroll’s Board of County Commissioners proclaimed this week Children’s Mental Health Awareness week in Carroll County. It’s in conjunction with the state’s awareness initiative Children’s Mental Health Matters! Now in its 11th year, the Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign brings together nonprofits, schools, agencies, and other partners with the goal of raising public awareness of the importance of children’s mental health and substance use.

The campaign aims to reduce the stigma of mental health, lets parents know they are not alone in caring for children with mental health needs, and connects families throughout Maryland with information and services to help their child and family. This year, agencies and schools throughout Carroll County have registered as Champions to promote the 2019 Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign.


E-SMART (Early Screening, decision Making, Assessment, Referral, and Treatment), Carroll County’s Early Childhood System of Care, has partnered with Carroll County Public Library Branch to hold community readings at each branch. (To learn about specific readings, dates and times visit

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, who will do one of the readings on Monday at 3 p.m. at the Eldersburg branch, read the proclamation on Thursday and noted that one in five children has some sort of mental or behavioral health challenge before turning 18, while 70 percent of school age children to not receive treatment for diagnosable mental illness.

“I believe it’s important that we continue to focus our attention on mental issues and not hide them in the closet,” he told us. “Whatever we can do to chip away at the stigma that mental health carries, we have that responsibility with our community.”

County Health Officer Ed Singer appeared with many of his staff at the Carroll County Health Department for the proclamation and said: “I think sometimes we are worried about what that looks like for people on the outside, but if young people who have a mental health diagnosis go untreated, it just compounds the problems as they get older.”

Katie Mack, director of the E-SMART project of the Carroll County Local Behavioral Health Authority of the Health Department, picked up on that theme. “We want to have those conversations as early as possible, because we know the earlier the interventions, the better the outcomes for our community members,” she said.

Addressing mental health needs in young children when they arise, Rothstein told us, is a necessary component of the response to the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic, where mental health and behavioral health issues intertwine. “They absolutely do dovetail and it is important we recognize that,” Rothstein said. “That we tie together the education approach along with the community approach in dealing with mental illness and other issues that may lead to substance abuse.”

Capping the week is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which will be Thursday across the nation. The mission of Awareness Day, started by a grassroots effort in 2005, is to shine a national spotlight on the importance of caring for every child’s mental health and reinforces that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development, according to its website. To learn more, visit

The statistics and anecdotal stories relating to anxiety and depression among young people and their roles in teen suicide and substance use are scary. We urge all parents to take advantage of the story times this week to begin the dialogue with young children, to take the time to talk about mental health with older kids and, if needed, to inquire about behavioral health services by calling 410-876-4449 and asking for a service coordinator