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Don’t Turn Your Back on Childhood Mental Health

APRIL 10, 2023
Dr. Renae Reinardy Spiry, 2019 National Mother of the Year, during the annual Mother of the Year Speeches.

When I learned that the theme for the Mother of the Year® speeches was, “America, This is your Mother Speaking” my first thought was, “I hope I will not get ignored the same way so many moms are when they try to get their children’s attention”.

But Moms don’t give up. We repeat ourselves, and even make our children repeat what we said so that we are sure they were listening.

America needs us. It’s true. The world needs compassionate, brilliant, inspiring, and persistent women more than ever.

But, we are often distracted. Bombarded with information, gossip, violence, prejudice, negative media, and gimmicks to get us to live our lives in ways that create very temporary happiness. This leads to overwhelm and avoidance of many other important issues, and our own effective self-care. 

We can no longer avoid the mental health needs of children and families in our communities. I believe it is truly the source of so many areas of suffering, and our children are struggling at younger and younger ages.

As a Clinical Psychologist I have had the opportunity to work with many children and families over the past 20 years through my private practice, presenting at conferences, and through my therapeutic online and plush animal system, Courage Critters. I have advocated for mental health on numerous talk shows, newspapers and magazines. I have also worked to increase awareness of conditions such as Hoarding Disorder on A&E’s Hoarders.

There is so much more to do. Estimates show that 80% of children with anxiety and 60% with depression never get treatment. Untreated mental health leads to social and academic struggles, substance abuse, and death by suicide. Just last week I read two obituaries of young people in my community who died by suicide. This truly breaks my heart, knowing that something may have been done sooner to prevent such suffering in these young people.

So… What do I want you to hear? Do what you can in the area of childhood mental health. This has to be a “multidisciplinary and modern approach” in providing effective, prevention oriented strategies in managing and decreasing mental health conditions, suicide and substance use. We have to show our communities what social and emotional wellness looks like.

In many states most funding goes into residential, inpatient mental health and substance abuse settings.  Imagine what changes we would see if as much funding went into prevention and community outreach. Its starting to happen. And we can be a big part of that change as American Mothers. Thank you for all that you do and for being here to celebrate our true nature, which is to love and heal our own families and our communities.

Dr. Renae Reinardy is a Psychologist and Director of the Lakeside Center for Behavioral Change. She is the Program Developer of, a plush animal and online program to help children learn adaptive coping skills. She received her doctorate at Argosy University, Washington DC. After several years in Washington, she returned to her home in the Midwest where she started a non-profit and continued to be an advocate for mental health. She has been a Professor and travels across America presenting at numerous conferences and trainings. Dr. Reinardy has been interviewed on Good Morning America, North Dakota Today and the Joy Behar Show. She was featured on Dateline NBC and A&E’s Hoarders. She currently resides in Fargo with her husband Chad and their 7-year-old daughter Fiona. Whenever she is not working, she plays a competitive game of Twister, and enjoys traveling, hiking and finding new adventures with her family. Read more about Renae here…


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