Most lessons are formatted into a PDF. Adobe Acrobat is needed to read these files. Download latest version Adobe Acrobat click here
Youth practitioners and parents may be the first to notice troubling signs and behaviors in a young person. Sharing this information with a mental health expert will secure access to an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. The following are just a few examples of warning signs that mental health services may be needed and that a professional should be consulted:
How to Refer Young People to Professional Mental Health Services
Mental health centers typically have an “intake process,” which means that when a person calls for counseling, he or she will speak with a designated “intake” staff person who will collect information to determine whether or not the agency can meet the person’s needs. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting is required to discuss the nature of the problem, and what treatment is needed and available. Finding the right service provider is important to the success of treatment and may take more than a single phone call. It might be necessary to call around to a few agencies before finding appropriate services.
Before making a referral, it might be useful to call a mental health provider to discuss the situation and determine if professional services are needed. If you and the provider decide that a referral is necessary, it is best to have as much of the following information available as possible. (If you are missing any of this information, though, it is still important to call a mental health provider and discuss the situation.):
Communicating with Young People about Mental Health Concerns
Staff often play an important role in making youth feel comfortable about receiving mental health services. Make time to listen to the youth, and give time for him/her to ask questions and express his/her feelings. Remind the youth that getting help does not mean they have done anything wrong, or that they are a bad person or are crazy. By providing information and discussing feelings about mental health needs and treatment, you may be able to reduce anxiety and help the young person feel comfortable about getting help.
Make sure that in answering questions, you are open and honest and that you give the young person accurate information. Remember to reach out to the professional mental health provider and the parent to clarify any information about which you are unsure. (If the young person asks a question to which you don’t know the answer, tell them you don’t know, but that you’ll help them find the answer.)