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How and where do you get help for your child's psychological disorder? Detailed information here.

Table of Contents

Why Read This Guide?

Why Read This Guide?

You may have decided to read this guide because you are concerned that your child needs help getting along with others, controlling his or her behavior, or expressing emotions. Depending on your child's needs and your family's situation, you might look for help from schools, health clinics or hospitals, health insurance providers, community mental health centers, social service programs, and, possibly, the courts. When different agencies work together and include you and your family as a team, this is the beginning of developing a system of care.

Working with several different providers can be confusing, even overwhelming, unless they partner with you as a team to focus on your goals, strengths, and needs. In a system of care, each family defines its own strengths, the things it wants to change, and the kinds of help and support needed to reach the family's goals.

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Families who have received help from systems of care participated with the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health in creating this guide. In seeking appropriate care for their children, family members reported having felt overwhelmed, alone, intimidated, or even blamed. They found strength by sharing their experiences with other families. They have used their experiences to help develop this guide. This guide can help you figure out:

  • What you need to know;
  • What questions to ask;
  • What you can expect; and
  • What you can do.

Some words in this guide are printed in italics; these words are defined in the Glossary (page 21).

The words "you" and "your" in this guide refer to family members and others who are raising a child with a behavioral or emotional disturbance.

How and where do you get help for your child's psychological disorder? Detailed information here.Finding Services for Your Child

Get help early. If you have concerns about your child's behavior or emotions, tell your doctors, teachers, counselors, social workers, spiritual advisers, friends, and relatives who know about child and adolescent development and mental health. Ask for their help to find out what the problem is and where to get services.

Explore all options available to meet your child's and family's needs. Check your library, the health department, and the social service section of the telephone book for places that might offer the kinds of help you are looking for. A large amount of information can be found on the Internet. Many family-run organizations have resource centers and advocates or mentors who know about available services and whether a system of care is being developed in your community.

What you need to know

You are the expert when it comes to your child. You know your child better than anyone else. You know:

  • How your child responds to different situations;
  • Your child's strengths and needs;
  • What your child likes and dislikes;
  • What has worked to help your child; and
  • What has not worked.

You are the person who decides what services and supports your child and family will receive.

Include your child in the decisionmaking process. Your child needs to understand what is going on in order to actively participate in his or her care.

Every child is different, yet there are children similar to yours. You are not alone. Other families have faced similar problems, shared the same experiences, and are willing to help you.