Mental Health Medicine for Children and Youth

Medicine can help children and youth who have a mental health condition.

Psychotropic medicine treats symptoms of mental illness. It can help improve your child’s mood, thoughts, and behavior. Like any medicine, psychotropic medicine might have side effects.

How can your child get psychotropic medicine?
A qualified medical doctor must first assess your child. An assessment means the doctor will get information about your child’s symptoms, medical and mental health history, and other important information. Then, the doctor can decide if medicine will help.

When you call to schedule an appointment for your child, ask:

  • Who will I meet with for the first session (who all will be there)?
  • What information, papers, or materials do I need to bring?
  • If I will not have an assessment scheduled for the first appointment, when will an appointment about medicine be scheduled?
  • Can I bring a friend or advocate with me to the appointment?

You may also want to take a notepad and pen, and a list of your questions and concerns. It can be hard to remember all the things you want to say during your appointment. It helps to take notes.

If the doctor recommends medicine, ask:

  • For information about your child’s diagnosis and treatment options.
  • About any possible side effects, including things you should look for as your child begins taking a new medicine.
  • About the treatment plan. Does the doctor plan to give your child more or less of the medicine in the future? Is the doctor thinking about giving your child another type of medicine?
  • How often would the doctor or prescribing medical professional like to see you?
  • What is the best way to reach the doctor or prescribing medical professional if you have any questions or concerns?
  • What steps you should take if you need immediate help due to safety or health concerns about your child.

Important things to know when your child is taking any medicine:

  • The name of the medicine (both the brand name and the generic name)
  • What is the medicine for?
  • How long does my child have to take it?
  • What are common side effects?
  • What is the dose? How often and when is it given?
  • What should I do if my child gets sick, misses a dose, or has a side effect?
  • How often will the doctor need to see my child? Are there any tests (blood tests or heart tests) needed?

What if you disagree with the doctor’s recommendation?
Talk to the doctor or medical professional about your concerns. You do not have to agree to the recommended medicine. Help them to better understand your concerns and your child’s needs.

If you have other questions or need help scheduling an assessment, call us.