Remembering, supporting, and encouraging in the month of July

Bereaved Parents Awareness Month

Often we don’t know what to say or do for grieving parents, so we do nothing.  However, the month of July is designated as Bereaved Parents Awareness Month, a time for supporting our friends and loved ones who’ve experienced the loss of a child.  Each year in the United States, the parents of over 50,000 children face the tragedy of losing a child (U.S. National Center for Health Statics, 2011).  Rather than looking ahead and planning their children’s futures, bereaved parents are often trapped for years in the memories of their children’s lives.  An article published in the Journal of Family Psychology® examined bereaved parents and comparison parents who had not experienced the loss of a child with similar backgrounds in the Wisconsin Longitudinal study.  Bereaved mothers and fathers experience more physical and emotional issues than do non-bereaved parents, including severe depression; mortality due to illness and suicide; and failed marriages (Rogers et al., 2008).  The extent, the intensity, and the need for professional help depends upon the degree of problems and coping resources these parents have acquired prior to their loss (Kazak & Noll, 2004).  Individuals interested in helping bereaved parents recover are encouraged to engage them in constructive and rewarding activities which produce a sense of meaning and well-being.  This July, join various health professionals, friends, and family members, to embrace them during Bereaved Parents Awareness Month.

Kazak, A. E., & Noll, R. B. (June 2004). Child death from pediatric illness: Conceptualizing intervention from a family/systems and public health perspective. Professional Psychology, Research and Practice, 35, 219-226.

Rogers, C. H., Floyd, F. J., Seltzer, M. M., Greenberg, J., & Hong, J. (2008) Long-term effects of the death of a child on parents’ adjustment in midlife. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 203-211. doi:10/1037/0893-3200.22.2.203

U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.  (2011). Deaths and death rates for the leading causes of death in specified age groups, by races and sex. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Three years ago in 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives designated the month of July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in honor of author Bebe Moore Campbell.  Activities and efforts during National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month are aimed at enhancing public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.  Ms. Campbell and her longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd, PhD began working to establish a national minority mental health month in 2005.  Ms. Campbell’s book, the 72-Hour Hold, which focuses on an adult daughter and a family’s experience with the onset of mental illness, was an example of her works to fight against the stigma surrounding mental illness.  The book’s release provided the pair with the opportunity to promote mental health information in support of their cause.  Tragically before the dream could be realized, Ms. Campbell lost her battle with cancer in 2006. Touched by the life and efforts of Ms. Campbell, Dr. Wharton-Boyd, and many of Ms. Campbell’s friends and family picked up where she left off. They obtained the support of Representatives Albert Wynn (MA) and Diane Watson, PhD (CA), a psychologist herself, and almost a year after the bill was introduced, the House of Representatives passed the legislation in recognition that:

  • Improved access to mental health treatment and services and public awareness of mental illness are of paramount importance; and 

  • An appropriate month should be recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.

To read more about Bebe Moore Campbell, please visit the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month wesbsite.