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
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 SAMHSA 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, Youth and several more
- Helping Your Loved One Who is Suicidal: A Guide for Family and Friends - 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 a loved one safe.
SAMHSA also has National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day resources, including archived webcasts, such as the 2019 videos What are Systems of Care? and Suicide Prevention in Tribal Communities (find videos by scrolling down the list).
CDC offers Children’s Mental Health materials to help parents and other caregivers recognize the many challenges young people face and support their efforts to ensure well-being. Resources include:
- COVID-19 Parental Resource Kit - with downloadable resources such as an activity book and a board game. There are also conversation starter ideas and where and how to get immediate help in a crisis.
- Interactive Web Tools (also available in Spanish) - tools to share with parents and other caregivers that promote emotional well-being and resilience for children and teens
- Helping Children Cope - a list of mental health-related behavior changes parents can watch for, and ways to be supportive
For general and COVID-19 pandemic related stress materials for all ages, CDC provides Stress and Coping resources including Care for Yourself, Coping with Stress, and Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress.
The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality has two Spanish language brochures, Depression and Anxiety During and After Pregnancy, one for moms and the other for fathers, partners, families, and friends.
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).
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
- To find all resources the WIC Works Resource System has to offer on this topic, type "mental health" and "depression" in the search box located in the navigation bar.