Positive Mental Health Messaging
As part of the mental health observances in May, many national organizations join together to raise awareness and build understanding of the significant role mental health plays in overall health and wellness and how vital positive mental health is to a child's development and everyone's well-being.
While diagnosing and treating mental health disorders is outside of WIC's scope, it’s important for WIC staff to know how, and be able, to help connect children and families with appropriate resources for mental health issues.
How WIC Can Help
In addition to connecting participants with appropriate resources, providing nutrition education and WIC food packages are also important. As noted in the WIC Guidance for Screening and Referring Women with or at Risk for Depression, appetite changes can be a distinguishing feature of depression and the combination of nutrition education and access to nutritious foods may lessen the effects of these changes.
WIC Works features a number of Nutrition Education and Health and Wellness resources, including depression screening tools and recipes featured in the Meals of the Month series, to assist WIC staff in the provision of nutrition services.
Resources for Families Supporting a Loved One
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) public messages offer handouts and videos to support organizations' efforts to educate the public. Other resources include:
- Living Well with Serious Mental Illness
- Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders
- Help Prevent Suicide with links to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and resources specific to populations at greater risk such as American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Young Adults and several more
CDC offers messages to help parents talk to children about COVID-19 to help minimize anxiety or fear. Additionally, on their Children’s Mental Health section (also available in Spanish), you’ll find Supporting Parents to Help Children Thrive, referral and other resources, including a video for mothers, fathers and other caregivers.
Resources for individuals in need of assistance (emergent or otherwise) can be found via the SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, the Mental Health America's Finding Therapy page, and at MentalHealth.gov (including suicide prevention and a veterans’ crisis line).
Also available is a guide to help families who have a loved one who is suicidal or has made a suicide attempt. It provides information on understanding suicide, warning signs and action steps to take, and how to prevent future attempts and keep your loved one safe.
Additional Mental Health Resources
- WIC Guidance for Screening and Referring Women With or at Risk for Depression
- Maternal Depression: Everyone Can Play a Role to Help Families Thrive
- Perinatal Depression & Anxiety
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health
HHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration