May 8, 2014 was National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.

Anxiety, depression, and behavioral disturbances are all too common in children. Yet, busy pediatricians and other primary care providers can feel easily frustrated by the lack of mental health supports for the children and families in their care.

Not only are mental health clinicians, especially in public clinics, burdened by the sheer numbers of children in need, but, they also face an enormous challenge in trying to develop effective methods to help these children and their families.

In such demanding settings, it is all too easy to forget that THE most important therapeutic ingredient in all situations is LISTENING to the child and family. By careful listening, the clinician can hear the child's story and, in turn, will be able to implement an appropriate therapeutic plan.

Not only on Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, but on all days let us be sure that we listen attentively to our children.

Leon Hoffman, MD

Director, Pacella Parent Child Center

The NY Psychoanalytic Society& Institute

Chief Psychiatrist, West End Day School, New York City

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