Acceptance Week 2024
May 5th - 11th, 2024
Accept. Advocate. Act.
Support the National Federation of Families. Together, we can end bias and discrimination
and help build a healthy nation that celebrates children's strengths.
We’re excited to announce the 2024 Children’s Mental Health Acceptance Week theme, "Lighting the Path to Social Justice for Children and Youth." But what is social justice? What does it mean for individuals, communities, and systems? The foundation of social justice is living the “golden rule,” treating others the way would like to be treated - at every level.
As individuals, social justice means accepting each person for who they are – celebrating and embracing the diversity of our fellow man. It means accepting every member of our communities – welcoming their participation and contributions in all groups. At the system level, it means accepting that each person has their own unique strengths and goals - shaping supports and resources to be responsive to each person’s dreams.
In essence social justice means:
Equity at every level of society
Ensuring that all members of our society are physically and psychologically safe and secure
Giving every person the opportunity to live up to their full potential
Supporting one another to live meaningful, purposeful lives.
Each year Children’s Mental Health Acceptance Week gives us the opportunity to shine the light on children and youth – to focus on equity and inclusion for our young people who are impacted by mental health challenges. Only through acceptance, advocacy, and action can we move toward social justice for families and impact social change – beginning with our children and youth. This Children’s Mental Health Acceptance Week, May 5th - 11th, we invite you to join us in lighting the path to social justice for children and youth. Look for new announcements here in the coming weeks!
In 2022, the National Federation of Families took an important step to advance social justice for families: launching the first national Children’s Mental Health Acceptance Week, a departure from Awareness Week which began in 1992.
As an organization focused on families with children who experience mental health and/or substance use challenges across the lifespan, we believe acceptance more directly combats discrimination, prejudice, and subconscious bias. Awareness isn’t enough – but Acceptance demands we advocate and act to change attitudes, behaviors, and systems. Acceptance is a crucial first step on the path to social justice.
One positive impact of a pandemic that has challenged everyone's mental health is that, now more than ever, people are talking about it and know it's important. So, it's time to move beyond the term awareness. This significant shift to "acceptance" speaks more directly to our goal for the campaign - to eliminate prejudice and discrimination that individuals with a mental illness diagnosis or symptoms experience.
We believe the term acceptance more directly combats prejudice. Mental health exists on a spectrum and almost everyone experiences challenges at some point in their life. Recognizing that our mental health is just as important as our physical health and accepting individuals who struggle for a period - or for a lifetime - is critical to reducing the fear, worry, blame, and shame that families and their loved ones experience - and increases the likelihood that those who are in need will seek the support and treatment they deserve.
In December of 2021, the Surgeon General issued an advisory highlighting the urgent need to address our nation's youth mental health crisis. In June of 2023, the surgeon general released another report highlighting risks to youth mental health as a result of social media use. These advisories underscore the importance of our acceptance campaign message - that it's time to move beyond awareness and to accept the challenges our children and youth face today.
Moving the CMHAW campaign beyond Awareness. Why the "A" now stands for Acceptance.
Watch the recording of our CMHAW Event: "Accept. Advocate. Act. Parents Talk About Children's Mental Health" that took place in 2023 (below), check out our latest infographics to learn more, and explore our campaign resources below to find social media tools, educational materials for children and youth, activities for families, our advocacy calendar and much more!
Special thanks to our 2024 CMHAW campaign sponsor!