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 WIC 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:
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:
Helping Children Cope - a list of mental health-related behavior changes parents can watch for, and ways to be supportive
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.
Additional Mental Health Resources
Resources for Individuals in Need of Assistance (emergent or otherwise)
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support via phone or text for people in distress. This shorter phone number makes it easier for people to remember and access mental health crisis services. There is also a web chat available 24/7.
Prevention and crisis resources, including posters and a magnet (available in Spanish), wallet cards, and safety plan pads, are available for professionals to download or order.
National Maternal Mental Health Hotline 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262) is a free English and Spanish language confidential hotline for pregnant and new moms, available 24/7. Check out the Maternal Mental Health page on WIC Works for an additional resource.
SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator is a confidential and anonymous resource for persons seeking treatment for mental and substance use disorders in the United States and its territories.
Mental Health America's Finding Therapy is a site that shares a fact sheet and referral sources.
Helping Your Loved One Who is Suicidal: A Guide for Family and Friends is a downloadable publication that provides information on understanding suicide, warning signs and action steps to take, and how to prevent future attempts and keep your loved one safe.