Many children and adolescents have mental health challenges that affect their daily functioning. Parenting a child who is experiencing a mental health challenge can be a confusing and difficult process. We can provide you with support and information.
Like many health struggles, early intervention for your child will result in better outcomes. Consider these options to assist your child:
- Document your child’s behavior. Ask family members, friends, and teachers for their observations.
- Talk with your child to better understand their perceptions, feelings, behaviors, and thoughts.
- Discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician. They may refer you to a specialist such as a child psychiatrist or psychologist.
- Doctors refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) when making mental health diagnoses.
- Contact the mental health agency in your region. Every agency has a 24 hour emergency phone number.
- Learn about the Vermont Family-Based Approach offered through the UVM College of Medicine’s Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families.
- Request a psychological or special education evaluation through your child’s school. Your child may be eligible for an Individualized Education Program or a Section 504 Plan.
- Learn about Vermont’s community mental health system, which strives to access the least restrictive level of care before moving up to higher levels of care.
- Individuals with a mental health issue are more likely to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder.
- For more services and support, ask your school for a Coordinated Services Planning (CSP) team meeting. If your child needs a higher level of care, such as residential treatment, the CSP team can make a referral to the Local Interagency Team (LIT), State Interagency Team (SIT), or the Case Review Committee. Parent Representatives are available to help you. Review the CSP form for more information on the process. For information on SIT, review this handout.
- Attend a support group to meet other families. Support groups are available through NAMI-VT or through your regional mental health agency.
- Take good care of yourself so you can help your child and your family.