Services that are affordable, located nearby, and open during
evenings and weekends. Staff is sensitive to and incorporates
individual and cultural values. Staff is also sensitive to
barriers that may keep a person from getting help. For example,
an adolescent may be more willing to attend a support group
meeting in a church or club near home than to travel to a mental
health center. An accessible service can handle consumer demand
without placing people on a long waiting list.
Designed to meet the specific needs of each individual child and
family. For example, one family may need day treatment, while
another may need home-based services. Appropriate services for
one child and family may not be appropriate for another.
Appropriate services usually are provided in the child’s
A professional review of child and family needs that is done when
services are first sought from a caregiver. The assessment of the
child includes a review of physical and mental health,
intelligence, school performance, family situation, and behavior
in the community. The assessment identifies the strengths of the
child and family. Together, the caregiver and family decide what
kind of treatment and supports, if any, are needed.
A person who has special training to help people with mental
health problems. Examples include social workers, teachers,
psychologists, psychiatrists, and mentors.
An individual who organizes and coordinates services and supports
for children with mental health problems and their families.
(Alternate terms: service coordinator, advocate, and
A service that helps people arrange for appropriate services and
supports. A case manager coordinates mental health, social work,
educational, health, vocational, transportation, advocacy,
respite care, and recreational services, as needed. The case
manager makes sure that the changing needs of the child and
family are met. (This definition does not apply to managed care.)
Child Protective Services (CPS)
Designed to safeguard the child when abuse, neglect, or
abandonment is suspected, or when there is no family to take care
of the child. Examples of help delivered in the home include
financial assistance, vocational training, homemaker services,
and daycare. If in-home supports are insufficient, the child may
be removed from the home on a temporary or permanent basis.
Ideally, the goal is to keep the child with the family whenever
Children and Adolescents at Risk for Mental Health Problems
Children are at greater risk for developing mental health
problems when certain factors occur in their lives or
environments. Factors include physical abuse, emotional abuse or
neglect, harmful stress, discrimination, poverty, loss of a loved
one, frequent relocation, alcohol and other drug use, trauma, and
exposure to violence.
Continuum of Care
A term that implies a progression of services that a child moves
through, usually one service at a time. More recently, it has
come to mean comprehensive services. Also see system of care and
Child-serving organizations talk with the family and agree upon a
plan of care that meets the child’s needs. These organizations
can include mental health, education, juvenile justice, and child
welfare. Case management is necessary to coordinate services.
Also see family-centered services and wraparound services.
Crisis Residential Treatment Services
Short-term, round-the-clock help provided in a nonhospital
setting during a crisis. For example, when a child becomes
aggressive and uncontrollable, despite in-home supports, a parent
can temporarily place the child in a crisis residential treatment
service. The purposes of this care are to avoid inpatient
hospitalization, help stabilize the child, and determine the next
Help that is sensitive and responsive to cultural differences.
Caregivers are aware of the impact of culture and possess skills
to help provide services that respond appropriately to a person’s
unique cultural differences, including race and ethnicity,
national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or
physical disability. They also adapt their skills to fit a
family’s values and customs.
Day treatment includes special education, counseling, parent
training, vocational training, skill building, crisis
intervention, and recreational therapy. It lasts at least 4 hours
a day. Day treatment programs work in conjunction with mental
health, recreation, and education organizations and may even be
provided by them.
DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
An official manual of mental health problems developed by the
American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrists, psychologists,
social workers, and other health and mental health care providers
use this reference book to understand and diagnose mental health
problems. Insurance companies and health care providers also use
the terms and explanations in this book when discussing mental
health problems. Current edition is DSM V.
A process used to recognize warning signs for mental health
problems and to take early action against factors that put
individuals at risk. Early intervention can help children get
better in less time and can prevent problems from becoming worse.
Also referred to as Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI).
Emergency and Crisis Services
A group of services that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week, to help during a mental health emergency. Examples include
telephone crisis hotlines, suicide hotlines, crisis counseling,
crisis residential treatment services, crisis outreach teams, and
crisis respite care.
Help designed to meet the specific needs of each individual child
and family. Children and families should not be expected to fit
into services that do not meet their needs. Also see appropriate
services, coordinated services, wraparound services, and cultural
Family Support Services
Help designed to keep the family together, while coping with
mental health problems that affect them. These services may
include consumer information workshops, in-home supports, family
therapy, parenting training, crisis services, and respite care.
Help provided in a family’s home either for a defined period of
time or for as long as it takes to deal with a mental health
problem. Examples include parent training, counseling, and
working with family members to identify, find, or provide other
necessary help. The goal is to prevent the child from being
placed outside of the home. (Alternate term: in-home supports.)
Independent Living Services
Support for a young person living on his or her own. These
services include therapeutic group homes, supervised apartment
living, and job placement. Services teach youth how to handle
financial, medical, housing, transportation, and other daily
living needs, as well as how to get along with others.
Services designed to meet the unique needs of each child and
family. Services are individualized when the caregivers pay
attention to the needs and strengths, ages, and stages of
development of the child and individual family members. Also see
appropriate services and family-centered services.
Mental health treatment provided in a hospital setting 24 hours a
day. Inpatient hospitalization provides: (1) short-term treatment
in cases where a child is in crisis and possibly a danger to
his/herself or others, and (2) diagnosis and treatment when the
patient cannot be evaluated or treated appropriately in an
A way to supervise the delivery of health care services. Managed
care may specify which caregivers the insured family can see and
may also limit the number of visits and kinds of services that
are covered by insurance.
How a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life’s
situations. Mental health is how people look at themselves, their
lives, and the other people in their lives; evaluate their
challenges and problems; and explore choices. This includes
handling stress, relating to other people, and making decisions.
Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems are real. They affect one’s thoughts,
body, feelings, and behavior. Mental health problems are not just
a passing phase. They can be severe, seriously interfere with a
person’s life, and even cause a person to become disabled. Mental
health problems include depression, bipolar disorder
(manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit/ hyperactivity
disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and
Another term used for mental health problems.
This term is usually used to refer to severe mental health
problems in children, youth, or adults.
Plan of Care
A treatment plan especially designed for each child and family,
based on individual strengths and needs. The caregiver(s)
develop(s) the plan with input from the family. The plan
establishes goals and details appropriate treatment and services
to meet the special needs of the child and family.
Residential Treatment Centers
Facilities that provide treatment 24 hours a day and can usually
serve more than 12 young people at a time. Children with serious
emotional disturbances receive constant supervision and care.
Treatment may include individual, group, and family therapy;
behavior therapy; special education; recreation therapy; and
medical services. Residential treatment is usually more long-term
than inpatient hospitalization. Centers are also known as
therapeutic group homes.
A service that provides a break for parents who have a child with
a serious emotional disturbance. Trained parents or counselors
take care of the child for a brief period of time to give
families relief from the strain of caring for the child. This
type of care can be provided in the home or in another location.
Some parents may need this help every week.
Serious Emotional Disturbances
Diagnosable disorders in children and adolescents that severely
disrupt their daily functioning in the home, school, or
community. Serious emotional disturbances affect one in 10 young
people. These disorders include depression,
attention-deficit/hyperactivity, anxiety disorders, conduct
disorder, and eating disorders.
A type of support or clinical intervention designed to address
the specific mental health needs of a child and his or her
family. A service could be provided only one time or repeated
over a course of time, as determined by the child, family, and
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If you or a loved one is in immediate crisis, please call 911
or visit the nearest emergency room.
The UACF Hope Line is a message system for parents and caregivers
that provides resources and connections to individuals in your
community that may be able to assist you in finding appropriate
support services for your child’s mental health needs. Feel free
to leave a message on the UACF Hope Line and your call will be
returned as promptly as possible.