Search for answers or browse our knowledge base.
Mental Health Services for My Child
Services and Treatment Options
(#2 of 3 in Series)
Mental health care is a complex system, and families often struggle to find services and providers to meet their children’s needs. This resource explains treatment and programs for children with mental health care needs.
Tip for Families
Starting early and partnering with your child’s primary care provider to find the right services can make a life-long difference for a child.
There are two primary types of treatment, psychotherapy and medication.
- Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is when a person speaks with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential place to explore and understand feelings and behaviors and gain coping skills.1 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one form of psychotherapy used commonly for children with mental health concerns. To learn more, go the National Institute of Mental Health website at nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies
- Medication may be part of your child’s treatment plan. Together with a medical professional, a family can decide if medication is appropriate. The doctor (usually a psychiatrist or primary care doctor) can write a prescription. Be sure to closely monitor your child and ask for a change to the dose if needed. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or contact the doctor if you are concerned that your child is having issues or cannot tolerate the amount recommended. The use of medication is a personal and complex decision. Go to parentsmedguide.org to learn more about medication as a treatment option.
Mental Health programs and services can be provided in various settings for children and teens. A few examples include private practice, community mental health agencies, residential care centers, and psychiatric inpatient units. To find programs and agencies in your area, contact Well Badger Resource Center’s Mental Health and Behavioral Health Navigator.
- Private Therapy Practices include individual, family and group therapy sessions are held in different settings, most commonly with a provider in private practice. A professional in private practice may work out of an office, clinic or home. These professionals may include psychiatrists (medical doctors), clinical psychologists, marriage and family counselors, and clinical social workers. Go to /mhanational.org/types-mental-health-professionals to learn more.
- Community Mental Health Agencies provide outpatient services and supports, including counseling, evaluations, case management, medication management, and referrals to resources and public and private supports. Many agencies accept Medicaid/BadgerCare and private insurance.
- Residential Care Centers provide both short-term (a few days) and long-term treatment. Residential programs may provide evaluation, psychotherapy, educational programming, or other intensive therapies.
- Psychiatric Inpatient Units are hospital-based programs that provide crisis mental health, evaluation, therapy/counseling, and other treatment services.
County Mental Health Programs
County Mental Health Programs provide support and services for children and teens with significant behavioral, emotional or mental health challenges. These programs are publicly funded, primarily through Wisconsin Medicaid. Many county-based programs in Wisconsin incorporate the “wraparound” concept. Wraparound programs, also called Coordinated Services Teams, value the family voice, choice, and natural support. Comprehensive Community Services or other recovery programs may also be available in your county. Contact your county human services department or Regional Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs to learn more.
Crisis Mental Health
If a child or teen is in danger of harming themselves or others, they may need crisis mental health services. These are hospital inpatient and outpatient settings. Families can find available programs by calling Well Badger Resource Center. There are also free crisis hotlines, available 24/7, like the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988lifeline.org or call 988 from anywhere in the US.
If you need to call 911 for assistance in an emergency, ask that a Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) police officer respond. If you have written information about your child, like a care plan, have it ready and available for the responding officers. To learn more, read the NAMI article, Calling 911 and Talking with Police.
INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
These resources explain available treatment options for your child:
- National Institute of Mental Health: nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/child-and-adolescent-mental-health
- SAMHSA treatment directory: findtreatment.gov
- NAMI Treatment Options: nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment
Developed by Family Voices of Wisconsin in partnership with the Office of Children’s Mental Health, children.wi.gov.
Family Voices of Wisconsin, 2023© | familyvoiceswi.org