6 Essential Tips for Finding High Quality Mental Health Services

How to find help when someone in your family needs some professional help.

Tom Andriola October 29, 2015

Adoption in and of itself requires adjustments on the part of both the child and the family that child is adopted into. When that child also has mental health needs, it is all the more important that those needs are addressed effectively with high quality mental health services. Here are 6 tips on finding high quality mental health services, no matter where you live.

Do a little research first.
1. Do a little research first.

A good place to start might be the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA), which is the federal agency whose mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness. The agency’s website has a wealth of background information and data, as well as information on specific programs and services, all organized and searchable by location.

Other options for obtaining background and information about effective mental health services are the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice .

Talk to the school counselor.
2. Talk to the school counselor.

If your child is in school, talk to the school counselor. Chances are, they have been referring other children to services for a number of years and know which ones are reputable and which ones are not. The school may also have some in-house services that your child might be able to utilize during the school day, which will reduce the need to miss class time due to travel and other factors.

Talk to your pediatrician
3. Talk to your pediatrician

Get your pediatrician’s opinion on how to best respond to your child’s mental health needs. Pay careful attention to whether they make mention of the possibility of medication or if they steer you directly to what they describe as an effective mental health service based on their observation of your child. Typically, medication is not the answer unless appropriate effective mental health services are tried and exhausted.

Check in with your local government agencies.
4. Check in with your local government agencies.

Whether it’s the local department of social services, office of mental health, or a child welfare agency in your area, most local government agencies will have information on mental health services in your area. Ask whether the services they are referring you to are evidence-based or otherwise proven to be effective. If they don’t understand the question, it may be a clue that you need to check in with a different agency.

Find a family advocate.
5. Find a family advocate.

Family advocates are specially trained to help navigate the intricate web of government programs and services. Many have started out by going through the process themselves, and so they know firsthand how difficult and anxiety-provoking the process can be first hand. The passion they obtained from their personal experience is often channeled in a way that can be invaluable to families encountering these difficulties for the first time.

Don’t rely on one source for your information
6. Don’t rely on one source for your information

This should go without saying, and it really applies to making an informed decision that’s best for you and your child in any realm. Ask around. Compare notes. Chances are, the best options will be suggested consistently by multiple sources, while lesser options will be mentioned by a single source or spoken about negatively by multiple sources.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.

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