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Children's Issues

Young people can have mental, emotional, and behavioral problems that are real, painful, and costly. When unaddressed, these problems can take a toll on families as well as our schools and communities.

The number of young people and their families who are affected by mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders is significant. It is estimated that as many as one in five children and adolescents may have a mental health disorder that can be identified and require treatment.

Mental health disorders in children and adolescents are caused by biology, environment, or a combination of the two. Examples of biological factors are genetics, chemical imbalances in the body, and damage to the central nervous system, such as a head injury. Many environmental factors also can affect mental health, including exposure to violence, extreme stress, and the loss of an important person.

Families and communities, working together, can help children and adolescents with mental disorders. A broad range of services is often necessary to meet the needs of these young people and their families. (From the SAMHSA website, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

On this page, you will find information and resources on:

Youth Council

Children's Mental Health Fact Sheet

School Best Practices

Reinvesting in the Community

Keeping Families Together: A Community Initiative

Bill of Rights for Children with Mental Health Disorders

Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services

Serving Children in their Homes and Communities

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis for your Child

Informational Resources

 School Best Practices

Schools play a critical role in helping students diagnosed with mental illnesses reach their full academic and functional potential. The academic performance and behavioral functioning of students significantly improves when their mental health needs are effectively addressed. NAMI calls on schools to adopt the following ten best practices: download School Best Practices (pdf).

 Reinvesting in the Community: A family guide to expanding home and community-based mental health services and supports

NAMI has released a publication titled Reinvesting in the Community: A Family Guide to expanding Home and Community-Based Mental Services and Supports, to inform families about the importance of expanding the array of home and community-based services and supports available to children and youth with mental illness and their families.

To download a copy of the family guide, please visit NAMI’s Child and Adolescent Action Center website by clicking here. Sections of the guide in Spanish are also available online.

 Keeping Families Together: A Community Initiative

The Children’s Mental Health Planning Committee convened in 2008 to build a plan to transform the Children’s Mental Health System in Utah. The goal of the Committee is to create a comprehensive service delivery system to enable children and youth to stay in their homes and communities and to keep families together.

Keeping Families Together information sheet (Word)

Keeping Families Together information sheet (pdf)

 Bill of Rights for Children with Mental Health Disorders and their Families

The children's mental health coalition has created a Bill of Rights for Children with Mental Health Disorders and their Families. "This Bill of Rights represents the standard of what families living with mental illnesses should expect from treatment," said AACAP's President, Robert Hendren, D.O. "Children do better when they receive consistent, tailored treatment. Few children receive any treatment and fewer still receive the sustained, quality care that they require."

Bill of Rights for Children-click here to download (Word)

Bill of Rights for Children (pdf)

 Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services

The Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (HCBW) is a vehicle that allows states to apply to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand the array of intensive home and community-based services available to children and youth with serious mental health treatment needs who require a hospital level of care.

Information on Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (Word)

Information on Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (pdf)

 Serving Children with Serious Mental Health Treatment Needs in their Homes and Communities

Questions and Answers on serving children with serious mental health needs in their homes and communities (Word)

Questions and Answers on serving children with serious mental health needs in their homes and communities (pdf)

 Getting an Accurate Diagnosis for Your Child: 10 Steps for Families

Getting an accurate diagnosis for your child can be challenging. Several factors contribute to this challenge, including the following:

  • Symptoms – that often include extreme behaviors and dramatic changes in behavior and emotions – may change and develop over time.
  • Children and adolescents undergo rapid developmental changes in their brains and bodies as they get older and symptoms can be difficult to understand in the context of these changes.
  • Children may be unable to effectively describe their feelings or thoughts, making it hard to understand what is really going on with them.
  • It is often difficult to access a qualified mental health professional to do a comprehensive evaluation because of the shortage of children’s mental health providers and because some health care providers are reluctant to recognize mental illnesses in children and adolescents.

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis for Your Child: 10 Steps for Families (pdf)

 

For some children, having a diagnosis is scary and they may be resistant to accept it. Others are relieved to know that what is happening to them is caused by an illness, that they are not alone, and that there are treatment options that can make them feel and do better. It is important to find ways to use the strengths and interests of your child to help him or her cope with difficult symptoms. Benefits are often derived from aerobic exercise, martial arts, music, and art – whatever it takes to provide your child with a therapeutic outlet. The diagnosis is one piece of a much larger puzzle.

 Informational Resources

National Organizations and Information:

Utah Organizations:

Informational Brochures:

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Contact Us

NAMI Utah
1600 West 2200 South, Suite #202
West Valley City, UT 84119
(801) 323-9900

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To reach individual staff, please look up our staff contact page

If you have an emergency, please call 911 and ask for a CIT officer. If you are dealing with an urgent situation, please call the Behavioral Health Authority Crisis Line for your county. The Salt Lake County UNI Crisis Line is 801-587-3000. 

Suicide Prevention

If you or someone you love is in need of suicide prevention support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit the website for more info.

suicidepreventionlifeline.org