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  • Supporting, educationg and promoting understanding in the community so that children and youth with mental health challenges can experience success.
  • Teenagers and Mental Health
    Teenagers and Mental Health: 3 easy strategies parents could use with challenging behavior.
  • A Siblings Perspective
    Tips for living with a sibling with developmental delays and challenging behavior.
  • Children's Mental Health and Behavioral Disorders Project Main Slide
  • Teenagers and Mental Health
  • A Siblings Perspective
  • Stigma Video

Families of children with mental health, emotional and behavioral needs often navigate multiple systems to access necessary supports and services. Families may also face additional challenges due to stigma about mental health. PACER’s Inspiring Opportunities Project will bring together parents, youth and professionals to help families receive the resources and support their children need. This project will also promote increased understanding of children’s mental health, emotional, and behavioral need in the broader community.

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How well do you know your Mental Health Facts?

Test Your Knowledge -

Misunderstandings about mental illness can fuel negative attitudes and beliefs. One way to make stigma disappear is to take time to learn the facts. Check out your mental health awareness by taking this mental health fact quiz.

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Frequently Requested Resources

featured resources Pacer Publications Workshops and Trainings
  • Planning for a school meeting about your child’s behavior needs

    Are you receiving frequent calls from school about your child having behavior problems?  Would you like to feel more confident and prepared when attending a school meeting about your child’s behavior needs? This PACER publication can help you with strategies to more effectively communicate with school staff about your child’s challenging behaviors.  It also includes questions you and your child’s school team can consider to help you better understand your child and their behavior needs.

  • Tantrums, Tears, and Tempers: Behavior is Communication

    What’s really going on when your child throws a tantrum or has an extreme behavior that can’t be easily calmed?  This PACER publication discusses behavior as a form of communication, identifies different factors that can influence a child’s behavior, and provides positive strategies for responding to challenging behavior

  • Tips for Teachers, Principals and School Support staff from Students with mental health and behavioral disabilities

    Does your child with mental health needs tell you their teachers don’t understand them?  Do you wish you had a resource for school staff that helped them better understand their challenges? Written by youth with mental health and behavioral challenges, this PACER publication provides ideas for parents to share with teachers, principals and school support staff when working with students with mental health needs.

Share Your Story

My Story by Mike Madson

Mental disabilities are things that make your brain work differently from brains that don’t have them. So basically it makes a person with one think differently. Mental disabilities can help, hurt, or do both. I have a mental disability called autism. I am considered high functioning. Because of it, some things are easy for me, but some are challenging. Usually, I just act like a normal person, but in certain situations, I act different than most people. Some good things it does for me is that it makes me smart and able to figure out things easily. Some bad things it does for me is that it makes me nervous when I’m in a certain situation, like giving a speech in front of others or playing in a championship game. From my experiences, having mental disabilities aren’t as daunting as most people think. That said, I am very proud that I have achieved, despite my disability, the rank of Eagle Scout, made good grades in school, made National Honor Society, made Link Crew, made Minnesota All-State Choir, and been part of eight Minnesota Adaptive Sports State High School Championship Teams in three years (including four All-Tournament Teams, in soccer and floor hockey). I believe that hard work and determination can help a person achieve lot more than thought possible.

I have done a lot of therapies over the years to help me with my autism. You name it, and I have probably done it. My family has been very fortunate that I can do all of them here in Minnesota. Some of the therapies I have done are speech (ten years), occupational, horseback riding, music, and listening with headphones. I have participated in social skills groups and go to classes at West Metro Learning Connections in a young men’s group. I have also participated in Special Olympics swimming, earning quite a few gold medals. That’s been really cool!

Some of the things I struggle with are keeping up with my homework. I am really smart and get good grades; however sometimes I have to work harder and longer than others to accomplish the same assignments and I do some work with a tutor and get help from teachers when I need it. One class I had to work really hard in was AP Chemistry. Science and math are my strengths; however, I have to put more time into them compared to other students. Despite my autism, I have worked hard and made good grades.

My family has always expected me to participate in activities and not to use my autism as an excuse not to help around the house or to misbehave. I have always gone to restaurants, sporting events and movies. My family likes to bike ride and scuba dive together. We attend church together and I help in one of the third grade classrooms. By being around people, I learn to generalize when I have learned, and also have learned my manners and how to behave appropriately.

I really don’t know what my future holds, but do any of us know this? I hope to go to college and I would like to be a mechanical engineer. I think the skills and perseverance I learned in Scouts will help me. I hope to live independently and contribute to society. Maybe I will even get married someday. If I had to go back to the day I was born, I don’t think I would change anything. My autism is a part of me, and it is all I know. I feel like it has helped me and not hindered me.

Post script: Mike is a sophomore at Augsburg College studying Environmental Studies.  He has made the Dean’s list 2 out of 3 semesters, participates in the Augsburg Choir and will be performing with them at Carnegie Hall this March.

Make the Stigma Disappear

You Can Help Change the Stigma of Mental Illness! What You Can Do!

Become a “Mental Health Ambassador” in your community!

  • Meet with Policymakers
  • Promote change in laws
  • Present to community or youth groups
  • Use Your Voice
  • Identify Issues
  • Share Your Story

What PACER is Doing for Families!

  • Outreach to Parents through Workshops and Presentations
  • Developing Parent Leaders to Promote Change
  • Advisory Board to Gather Input on Community Needs

Visit PACER's other sites: Teens Against Bullying | Kids Against Bullying | FAST Family Support | FAPE | MN SEACs

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