Sesame Workshop well-being initiative supports behavioral health needs of children

Written by Dr. Arethusa Kirk, vice president clinical strategy, UnitedHealthcare Community & State


Mental Health Awareness Month in May raises awareness of the impact that mental health challenges have on over 50 million Americans. Mental Health America created the observance in 1949 by Mental Health America as an opportunity for individuals and organizations to recognize and advocate for those facing these challenges. Specific to children, mental health conditions are characterized as significant changes in learning ability, behavior or emotional regulation, resulting in distress throughout the day. While children are most commonly diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and behavior disorders, only 1 in 6 children aged 2-8 are diagnosed with mental, behavioral or developmental disorders.

Dedicated to the mental health needs of children in the United States, UnitedHealthcare is investing in Sesame Workshop’s multi-year, emotional well-being initiative for children and the caring adults in their lives. Sesame Workshop is the global impact nonprofit behind Sesame Street and so much more, harnessing the power of education, media, and research to support children in over 150 countries and empower each generation to build a better world.

The new, free emotional well-being resource's features English and Spanish versions of six Muppet videos, four printables, a digital storybook, an article and a listicle (an article written in a list format). These resources launched on sesame.org earlier this month and address a variety of topics including the connection between mental and physical health, the role of counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other caring adults, self-soothing techniques and the importance of nutrition, sleep and movement. 

This initiative is supported by research which shows that equipping children with coping skills can help them become more resilient so they can react positively to change and obstacles in life, allowing greater mental, social and academic success. Further research has found that children who have effective coping strategies are better able to regulate their emotions, promoting healthy family and social relationships.

 “The mental health crisis we’re facing today is top of mind for so many, yet its impact on children is too often overlooked,” said Sherrie Westin, president and nterim CEO of Sesame Workshop. “We know developing a healthy mind, body, and heart starts early, and the presence of supportive, caring adults in children’s lives makes a world of difference in their emotional well-being and understanding of how to identify and seek help when they may be experiencing overwhelming emotions.”

Committed to supporting the emotional well-being of children in the United States, UnitedHealthcare’s investment in Sesame Workshop’s emotional well-being initiative will help children develop emotional regulation skills and build an awareness of healthy mental and physical practices.

Author bio

Dr. Arethusa Stevens Kirk is a national senior medical director for UnitedHealthcare Community & State where she serves as the vice president of clinical strategy supporting each of the health plans nationally. 

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