If you think your child may have a behavioral health problem, it can be overwhelming. You’re trying to process this new information and you may not know where to start looking for help.
Although you may feel alone in this, you should know that is definitely not the case. One in five children in the United States lives with a mental disorder, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not to mention that approximately 10% of children and adolescents in the United States experience a serious emotional disturbance (SED) that impacts their ability to function at home, in school or in the community. Unfortunately, only about half of all children in need of behavioral and emotional services receive them.
“Whatever your child may be experiencing today, the great news is that children can and do recover from mental disorders,” says Kana Enomoto, Principal Deputy Administrator at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “With effective treatment and support, children with mental health conditions can improve their health, thrive and reach their full potential.”
Here are examples of places you can seek help if you are concerned that your child may have an emotional or behavioral disorder:
- If your child’s school has a guidance counselor, social worker or psychologist, they can be a great resource. There may be school-based mental health services in your community. If your child’s school does not have such resources, you can go to a community mental health center or a private provider. Check SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator for a list of providers in your area.
- If your child talks about harming her/himself or others, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which connects you and your child to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You can also access resources from the following organizations:
- National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health is a national family-run organization providing support for families by advocating for the rights of children and youth with emotional, behavioral and mental challenges and their families. The website contains information on local chapters to help families find support systems in their neighborhood.
- Youth M.O.V.E. National is a youth-led national organization devoted to uniting the voices and causes of youth while raising awareness around youth issues. The website highlights tools for caregivers and allows youth to find critical peer support in their locality. It also provides mentoring opportunities for youth who want to join the movement and lend support to others going through similar experiences.
- National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization focusing on education programs, advocating for mental health in all states and leading public awareness to encourage understanding of mental illness. NAMI devotes large sections of its website to highlight resources and tools for living a fulfilling life with a mental condition, both for teens and their caregivers.
- The National Institute of Mental Health has research and data on specific mental disorders and provides help for mental illnesses through a variety of resources and supports. This is a great resource for news about the latest research on different mental disorders.
- SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services leads federal efforts to promote the prevention and treatment of mental disorders by helping states improve and increase the quality and range of their treatment, rehabilitation and support.
Each year, SAMHSA observes National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to shine a spotlight on the importance of caring for every child’s mental health. Awareness Day 2016— “Finding Help. Finding Hope.” —explores how communities can improve access to services and supports for children, youth, and young adults with mental and substance use disorders and their families.
This year’s Awareness Day national event takes place Thurs., May 5, 2016, at 7 p.m. ET, in Washington, DC. Visit samhsa.gov/children to view the live national event webcast. One of the feature discussions will look at strategies for accessing behavioral health services through the education system. You can participate in Awareness Day Live! by watching the live webcast and interacting with the onstage discussion via email, text, or Twitter. Be sure to use #HeroesofHope!
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.