First, if your child is in imminent danger of hurting themselves or others, take your child to the closest emergency room or call a local psychiatric hospital. Any local psychiatric hospital that takes children will generally offer round-the-clock assessments at its admissions department. A clinician will evaluate the safety of the child, get to know the child and the family, and decide if the child needs to be kept at the hospital for his or her safety.
In general, what are the options to get help for your child? Your pediatrician may help guide you for the next step of treatment. A school counselor may have insight about options available at school or nearby. But don’t stop there if you don’t feel like you are getting solid answers.
Some pediatrician offices conduct screening assessment to help determine the need for mental health treatment. Most mental health professionals will also conduct an evaluation prior to conducting treatment. A comprehensive mental health evaluation is a more in-depth assessment conducted by a doctoral level (PhD) psychologist and requires several hours of testing possibly including input from other parties involved with the child. It helps determine the treatment plan for your child.
The types of providers who can support your mental health include: Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Counselors, Behavioral Analysts, Social Workers and Nurses. For more detail and definition on these types, please read here.
Find mental healthcare providers in Bexar County, including agencies, providers, educators and support. Find Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists When you are on the page, read down, agree to terms and click link at bottom to access finder.
While we always recommend to speak to a professional in order to get an accurate evaluation, parents can find helpful screening tools online such as the Pediatric Symptom Checklist. It is a brief questionnaire used by health professionals to help recognize psychosocial problems in children. Once completed, you can share the results with your pediatrician or family physician to see if they think help is necessary. Information on scoring the test is here.
A mental health assessment is done to:
- Assess a child to determine if they are experiencing any mental health or emotional issues.
- An assessment helps differentiate between mental and physical health problems
- Assess problems at school, work, or home. For example, it may be used to find out if a child has a learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or a conduct disorder (CD)
An assessment of a child’s or adolescent’s mental health is an integral part of finding the best solution regarding their condition and treatment. It is a tool that will enable your doctor to have a complete vision of your child's emotional well being.