Finding Help for Your Child

You may be the first to notice if something seems wrong with your child. It still may be hard to know if your child needs the help of a professional and how you can get help.

Many children have mental health issues, which are also called emotional or behavioral issues. Your child might feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, or stressed. They may also feel angry, aggressive, isolated, and impulsive.

Remember that not every problematic behavior is serious. The important thing is to know the difference between normal behavior changes and ones that could be a more serious problem.

If your child has challenges with emotions or behaviors, ask yourself:

  1. Does my child struggle with everyday activities?
  2. Does my child show emotional or behavioral problems in different settings, like at home, school, the community, or with friends or family?
  3. Have my child’s eating or sleeping habits changed because of their emotional or behavioral problems?
  4. Does my child have a hard time in situations where he or she used to be okay?
  5. Is my child or other family member stressed because of my child’s behavior?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it might be time to talk to a professional. You can talk to your child’s doctor or other health care provider. You can also talk to your child’s teacher about any behavioral changes they have noticed. The more you learn about your child’s behavior, the better you can work with your child and professionals to improve your child’s emotional state and behaviors.

What type of help is available?

Early Intervention Services
Early intervention services meet the developmental needs in young children, from birth to age three. Services include:

  • Early intervention service coordination
  • Independent evaluations
  • Nursing services
  • Nutritional services
  • Special instruction
  • Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy

Continuum of Care

These services are the most commonly used child and adolescent behavioral health services. They are listed here from the least intensive to the most intensive level of care.

Crisis Services
Crisis services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They include toll-free telephone hotline services, mobile crisis services, and walk-in crisis services. A mental health crisis is an intensive behavioral, emotional, substance use, or psychiatric situation, which, if left untreated, could result in an emergency situation requiring placement in a more restrictive setting.

Case Management or Service Coordination
Case managers, or service coordinators, help coordinate resources, services, and supports. Types of targeted case management:

  • Intensive Case Management (ICM): Most intensive level of case management. The ICM has contact with you and your child at least once every 2 weeks.
  • Resource Coordination (RC): Less intensive and has contact with you and your child at least 1 time per month.
  • Blended Case Management (BCM): More flexible and the intensity depends on your child’s changing needs. The BCM has contact with you at least 1 time per month.

Treatment/therapy for mental health and substance use disorders provided in a clinic or office setting.

Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS): Similar to services previously known as Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services (BHRS). Intensive Behavioral Health Services may be provided in your home, in the community, at a provider’s center-based facility, and/or at your child’s school, to address emotional/behavioral disorders or developmental disabilities. IBHS are designed to “wraparound” your child and may be delivered individually and/or in group settings, and may include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). IBHS is provided by clinicians including Behavior Consultants, Behavior Analysts, Mobile Therapists, Graduate Level Professionals, and Behavioral Health Technicians.

Family-Based Mental Health Services (FBMHS)
Team-delivered, intensive in-home services. FBMHS combine mental health treatment, family support services, and case management so that you may continue to care for your child with a serious mental illness or emotional disturbance at home. Includes 24/7 crisis support.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
Daytime program that provides individual, group, and family counseling as well as medication monitoring or management. The partial hospitalization program is provided on a regularly scheduled basis for a minimum of 3 hours, but less than 24 hours in any one day.

Community Residential Rehabilitation (CRR) Host Home
Family homes that provide 24-hour living arrangements and mental health treatment for youth whose emotional or behavioral needs cannot be treated effectively in their own home, but can still benefit from treatment in a home-like setting within their community. Families are expected to be involved in treatment.

Residential Treatment Facility (RTF)
An RTF is a temporary residence for youth who have severe emotional and/or behavioral disorders that cannot be managed in the community. Doctors, therapists, social workers, and childcare workers provide care and treatment. Families should be involved.

Short-term and individualized clinical intervention for mental health or substance use diagnoses, or both, provided in a licensed hospital setting.

*This continuum is not representative of all available mental health and substance use disorder services. Please contact the local Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Drug & Alcohol/Early Intervention organization serving your county of residence for information on additional supports and resources in your area.