FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The month of May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month. A study done on children’s mental health found that 1 in 5 children had a mental disorder, but only about 20% received care from a mental health provider, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Our Sleeves, part of the nonprofit organization of Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a movement helping improve children’s mental health by connecting families to resources and advocating for better support.

“Starting the conversation allows us to learn what our children are thinking, which is what impacts how they feel,” said Ariana Hoet, PhD, clinical director of On Our Sleeves in a news release. “It allows us to understand any experience they may be having outside of the home, anything that’s stressing them or worrying them. And then we can be there for them. We can help them problem solve. We can help them learn how to cope. And these conversations really empower them to handle whatever life is throwing at them and know that we are there to support them.” 

Having an open conversation with your children can help parents and guardians understand what issues and topics impact their children, the release said.

According to the press release, the national survey from On Our Sleeves in collaboration with behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children’s found that:

  • The vast majority of parents of kids under 18 (93%) say it is important for parents and caregivers to talk to their children about mental health.
  • More than half of parents of kids under 18 (59%) need help knowing how to start the conversation around mental health with their children.
  • Less than half of Americans (43%) say their family talked about mental health openly when they were growing up

Funding for mental health resources and education is needed according to the On Our Sleeves website. Donations and a giving guide show how funds can help classrooms and nurses across the U.S.

If you or your child need immediate help due to having suicidal thoughts, go to your local emergency room immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.