Mental Health Treatment Options for Your Child: A Guide

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Unfortunately, fewer than half of adolescents who have a mental illness receive any kind of treatment. But mental illnesses are highly treatable through medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Treatment can help your child recover from or manage their mental illness to enjoy a happy and productive life.

Where to Find Treatment

A high quality, reputable mental health clinic offers the best possible outcomes of treatment. Ideally, the clinic you choose should specialize in adolescent mental health. To find a behavioral health clinic, you can:

  • Ask your insurance company for a list of providers they cover
  • Ask your primary care physician for a recommendation or referral
  • Ask friends or family members for a recommendation
  • Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on their website, or call their Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP1.

What to Look for in a Quality Program

High quality mental health clinics have several factors in common. They:

  • Use only research-based treatments
  • Offer integrated treatment for multiple mental health disorders
  • Employ only licensed, experienced providers
  • Offer therapists with a range of specializations
  • Take a holistic approach to treatment

Clinics that have an accreditation from CARF International, the Joint Commission or another accrediting organization have gone through intensive evaluations by a third party. These clinics are sure to meet or exceed the industry’s standards for quality care.

What to Do if You Can’t Afford Treatment

One of the most common barriers to mental health treatment is its high cost. If you don’t have insurance or are unable to afford the co-pays associated with treatment, you have a number of options:

  • Check to see if your child qualifies for Medicaid
  • Find a center that offers a sliding fee scale and/or payment plans
  • Contact one of New York’s many college and university psychiatry or psychology departments, which may offer low-cost care through their training clinics
  • Find a clinical trial. Care is usually free when you participate in a clinical trial. You can visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s clinical trial finder2.

How to Best Support Your Child’s Mental Health

The best thing you can do to support your child in recovery from a mental illness is to learn everything you can about the condition. The more you understand about it, the better you’ll be able to control risk factors, respond to your child’s needs appropriately and advocate for them. There are a few other things you can do to help your child:

Get support

Joining a support group for parents of children with mental illness gives you a safe place to express difficult emotions, get emotional support, find tips and resources, and help other parents going through similar struggles.

Be attentive

Stay tuned in to your child’s moods, behaviors and emotions, and seek the advice of their therapist if they worsen.

Talk with your child’s school

Make sure that your child’s school is providing appropriate care and services and stay in touch with your child’s teacher about their mood and behavior.

Take care of yourself

Spending all your energy on your child can take a toll on your own physical and mental health. Be sure to include time for self-care in your day and spend a little time each day relaxing and enjoying life.

Treatment and support can lead your child back to good mental health. With the right care, your child can enjoy better mental functioning, a higher quality of life and a better sense of well-being for long-term recovery.


  1. Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
  2. Clinincal

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