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United States Department of Health & Human Services

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Secretary Tommy G. Thompson
Children's Mental Health

(September 18, 2001)

Actuality = approx. 8.6M

Hello, I'm Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

As the scenes and discussion of the terrorist attacks become more commonplace in communities throughout America, our children are asking questions and seeking comfort and reassurance. This may be leaving some parents and teachers wondering how best to respond.

We want to make sure all parents know about a new toll-free hotline that the Department of Health and Human Services set up to answer questions about mental health issues, including those affecting families and children. The number is 1-800-789-2647. Tips also are available on our Web site at www - dot - hhs - dot - gov.

Through experience, we know several approaches can help comfort children during difficult times. Answer their questions honestly, but without dwelling on frightening details. You don't need to be afraid to admit you can't answer everything.

Encourage children to express their feelings and give them opportunities to talk. Try to maintain your normal daily routines.

Our children may also long for reassuring hugs from their parents, along with verbal reassurance. It is important that we are there for children, especially now.

Teachers may also find a call to our mental health hotline useful, and the hotline can refer anyone to local counselors and other mental health resources. That number again is 1-800-789-2647.

Thank you, and God bless America.


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