It’s National Children’s Mental Health Acceptance Month and Living808 has dedicated an entire week to support the Department of Health’s initiative.  Hawaii Families As Allies is part of a national organization that supports parents with peer specialists.

If your child seems emotionally or behaviorally different, they can help.  Jackie Jackson, a certified family peer specialist with Hawaii Families As Allies, joined John Veneri in the Living808 Lounge to discuss what she does to help families in need.

“I’m the parent of two adult children ages 32 & 26 and recently became the legal guardian of an 11-year-old family relative with special needs. Hawaii Families as Allies is the pioneering agency of authentic peer support & consulting in Hawaii for over 35 years, we work with families of at risk “at promise” and adjudicated youth or parents of children with social, emotional, behavioral and/or mental health challenges through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant. I have been on the Oahu Service Area Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse since 2019 and recently had my nomination approved for the Hawaii State Council on Mental Health.  My son was diagnosed with mental health issues while in high school and I remember the powerlessness I felt not knowing how to help him. Also, I’m a great listener. When I ask you how you’re doing I genuinely want to know how you are doing. Getting to work with & support youth & families has been a rewarding experience. Hawaii Families As Allies is the state chapter for the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (NFFCMH). ‘

Jackson also explained the importance of moving from awareness to acceptance.

‘To highlight the prevalence and normality of the mental health issues our keiki are dealing with. I asked the same question and I believe the response was ‘’it’s time. ‘’

Individuals in need of crisis or mental health support services can call Hawai‘i CARES for free 24/7 support at 1-800-753-6879 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting ALOHA to 741741. For more information about children’s mental health services, visit https://health.hawaii.gov/camhd/.