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National Children's Mental Health Day Teaches Lessons in Resilience

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ROCKVILLE, Md.) -- Resilience was the theme when the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) held its Sixth Annual National Children's Mental Health Day Tuesday.  ABC News spoke with Kathryn Powers, director of the agency's Center for Mental Health Services, who says it's important for Americans to be aware of the high number of children who have been impacted by trauma. 

"More than a quarter of the children in the United States will have been exposed to trauma by time they are four years old," Powers says.

According to Powers, trauma can be defined as either "witnessing or experiencing physical or sexual abuse, violence in families and communities, natural disasters and wartime events or terrorism."

The high number of children exposed to trauma at such young ages is what inspired the agency to choose the resilience theme.  Powers said the goal of the day was to combat the myth that not talking about traumatic experiences with children can prevent the future development of problems.

Powers tells ABC News children don't have to suffer the long-term effects of trauma.

"We hope that people are committed every day of the year, not just on children's mental health awareness day, to make sure that we celebrate the fact that children can and do recover, and can and are resilient no matter what kinds of traumas they have experienced."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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