SAMHSA and Cyndi Lauper celebrate youth who overcome trauma and the "Heroes of Hope" who enhanced their resilience at annual National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day observance

May 10, 2012, 04:00 ET from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA and Cyndi Lauper celebrate youth who overcome trauma and the "Heroes of Hope" who enhanced their resilience at annual National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day observance

Honorary Chairperson Cyndi Lauper, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and other dignitaries joined youth who have overcome trauma and their "Heroes of Hope"

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Grammy and Emmy award-winning artist and advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality Cyndi Lauper joined the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and more than 130 Federal agencies, programs, and National organizations in celebrating the seventh annual National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. This year, the national event focused on youth who have experienced a traumatic event and the caring adults who have helped them be resilient.

"Young people unfortunately experience trauma every day, but they are resilient and can recover if we provide them the support that they need," said Lauper. "In particular, homeless gay and transgender youth face unique challenges, like family rejection, and they inspire me with their honesty and bravery to do all that I can to help them overcome those adversities and succeed in life." 

Lauper served as honorary chairperson of the "Heroes of Hope" tribute program held at The George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented an award to Lauper for her work on behalf of homeless LGBT youth through her foundation, the True Colors Fund. The True Colors Fund is set to expand its efforts with its newest initiative this June, a national program to raise awareness of the many issues impacting homeless LGBT youth, who account for 20-40 percent of the homeless youth population. The goal of the initiative is to bring an end to the growing epidemic of youth being thrown out of their homes or running away because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. She is also the co-founder and Honorary Chairperson of the True Colors Residence, a project that provides permanent and supportive homes to homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

Emmy award-winning news anchor Leon Harris from ABC 7/WJLA-TV served as emcee for the program, which honored youth who have experienced traumatic events and demonstrated resilience, as well as the caring adults who supported them. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families George Sheldon, and Joint Surgeon of the National Guard Bureau Major General Joseph K. Martin Jr. also participated.

"Children and youth experience trauma that can have a significant impact on their emotional and behavioral health," Hyde said. "With the support of caring adults in the family or community, these children can build the resilience needed to overcome traumatic experiences." 

Prior to the program, the American Art Therapy Association sponsored an art exhibit with a unique collection of artwork illustrating resilience over trauma. Works included pieces created by children from schools across the Nation. At the exhibit, the GlassBook Project showcased their eighth collection, titled "Beneath the Surface," about the impact of social judgment on youth in the transgender community. The art exhibit was part of a reception sponsored by the Child Mind Institute.

In celebration of Awareness Day, SAMHSA also announced the release of a new publication, "Identifying Mental Health and Substance Use Problems of Children and Adolescents: A Guide for Child-Serving Organizations." The first-ever publication developed by a cross-agency workgroup, the guide provides information on the early identification of children and adolescents with mental health and substance use problems specific to a number of child-serving settings, including homeless and domestic violence shelters, child welfare, juvenile justice, early childhood, education, and primary care.

More than 1,100 communities and more than 130 collaborating organizations from across the country are estimated to have also celebrated this annual observance, marking the day with community events; social media campaigns; and dance, music, and visual activities with children and youth. SAMHSA supports this program as part of its strategic initiative to promote public awareness and support for the prevention, treatment, and recovery of mental and substance use disorders.

For more information about Awareness Day, new publications and to view the webcast of the event, visit

Follow #HeroesofHope to join the conversation about National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on Twitter.

SAMHSA is a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

SOURCE Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)