Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Challenges in Children and Adolescents
This knowledge path directs readers to a selection
of current, high-quality resources that analyze data,
describe effective programs, and report on policy and
research aimed at improving access to and quality of
care for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral,
health challenges. Resources tap into
the health, education, social services, and juvenile
justice literature. This
knowledge path can be used by health professionals,
program administrators, policymakers, educators, and
community advocates to learn more about mental health,
for program development, and to locate training resources
and information to answer specific questions. Separate briefs present resources for families and schools. This knowledge path
has been compiled by NCEMCH and will be updated
See the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) policy brief, Children's Mental Health: What Every Policymaker Should Know (2010). This policy brief presents statistics about the extent of child and
adolescent mental health challenges in the United States; the difficulties
these children confront in school and in child welfare and juvenile justice
that can prevent access to services; and weaknesses in the service-delivery
system. The brief recommends policy strategies to enhance mental health for
children, adolescents, and families.
Resources for Professionals
for Healthcare Research and Quality
(AHRQ). Evidence-based information on health care outcomes; quality; and cost, use, and access. Links to evidence reports and research findings about
children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral,
and mental health challenges. Resources include
Health Care Quality Toolbox: Measuring Quality
in Children's Health Programs. Tips and tools to help
state and local policymakers
and program administrators evaluate
Medicaid, the Children's
Health Insurance Program (CHIP),
Title V, and other health programs
for children and adolescents. Includes mental health
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Information about research, legislative activities, and meetings
about child and adolescent
mental health. Includes practice information, training
and education tools, and patient-education materials.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Children's Mental Health in Primary Care. Policy statements, reports, practice guidelines, webinars, grant
project information, and other resources for health
professionals about mental health
and children and adolescents. Includes a toolkit to
assist AAP chapters in addressing and improving children's
mental health in primary care in their state and
collaborative projects of care among primary care
health professionals and mental health professionals.
Other resources include
dbpeds.org. Resources for health professionals about child development and behavior, especially in the medical setting. Includes forms, checklists, and other screening tools; online tutorials; and articles to support improvement in developmental and behavioral screening, surveillance, and identification of disabilities.
Healthy Foster Care America. Information about the range of health care issues and needs of children and adolescents in foster care, including mental and behavioral health. Resources include facts, statistics, policy statements, advocacy information, and a library of materials.
- Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Legislative news, fact sheets, and reports about coordinating systems of care for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges that support families and enable children to become successful adults. The center works to advance and preserve the rights of people with mental health challenges and developmental disabilities.
Futures at Georgetown University.
resources, and training tools for
a practical developmental approach
to providing health supervision
for infants, children, and adolescents,
including those with special health
care needs. Topics include general
health and development, mental
health, nutrition, oral health,
and physical activity. Some materials
are available in Spanish.
Bright Futures in Practice: Mental Health. (2002). [Guidelines].
What to Expect and When to Seek Help: Bright Futures Developmental Tools for Families and Providers. (2006). [Available in English and Spanish].
- Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS): Children's Behavioral Health. Program information, webinars, toolkits, and issue briefs about coordinated-care-management approaches that integrate the delivery of physical and behavioral
health services for children with behavioral or emotional problems. Includes
a series of webinars about an initiative to develop, implement, and evaluate
a care-management model in several states
for improving quality and reducing costs for high-utilizing Medicaid- and CHIP-enrolled
children with serious behavioral health challenges. CHCS is a nonprofit health
policy resource center that focuses on improving the quality and cost-effectiveness
of publicly financed health care.
- FrameWorks Institute: Child Mental Health. Research reports and tools about the gap between scientific knowledge and the
public's perception about child mental health and how to more effectively
communicate knowledge to the public and policymakers to close the gap. The
FrameWorks Institute aims to advance the nonprofit sector's communications
capacity by identifying, translating, and modeling relevant scholarly research
for framing the public discourse about social problems.
- Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD): Mental Health. Program, conference, and training information; publications; and other resources
to improve the quality of life for all children and adolescents, especially
those with special health care needs or who are at risk for poor outcomes. Resources
and initiatives about mental health include
Center for Cultural Competence
Resources and tools
to increase the capacity of
health and mental health programs
to design, implement, and evaluate
culturally and linguistically
competent service-delivery systems.
Materials are available in Spanish.
National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health. Webinars, an interactive electronic newsletter, conference information,
publications, and other resources about reforming services and building systems
of care for children and adolescents who have or are at risk for mental health
challenges and their families. Also see the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CECMHC).
- Healthy People 2020. Information about this national health-promotion and disease-prevention initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). View the overview, objectives, and recommended interventions and resources for mental health and mental disorders and substance abuse.
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Maternal and Child Health Training Program. Information about and resources to support university-based
centers funded to train the next generation of
leaders in maternal and child health (MCH) with
an emphasis on interdisciplinary, family-centered, culturally
care with a population-focused, public health approach.
Disciplines include developmental-behavioral pediatrics and adolescent health.
- National Association of Mental Health Planning and Advisory Councils (NAMHPAC). Links to the website for each state and territory mental health planning and advisory council. Includes toolkits, brochures, and position statements to help the councils function more effectively. NAMHPAC is a national association of advocates, parents, and consumers involved with state mental health planning.
- National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). Information about NASMHPD's technical-assistance programs, publications, data, and other resources that focus on state mental health services, including programs for children, adolescents, and families.
- National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP). Program information and publications about children's mental health. Located at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, NCCP works to identify and promote strategies that prevent child poverty and improve the lives of children and families with low incomes in the United States.
- Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures. Information about research projects that address issues such as career planning and development, foster care, treatment planning, transition policies, electronic health information literacy, and stigmatization in adolescents and young adults with serious mental health challenges. Resources include a webinar series and other training tools, research reviews, articles, fact sheets, and reports.
- Statewide Family and Consumer Networks Technical Assistance Center. Webinars, meeting materials, and publications to support organizational and
infrastructure development for family and consumer mental health support networks.
Topics include children's mental
health. The center
provides technical assistance to Statewide Family Network and Statewide
Consumer Network grantees of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Resources about mental health conditions and substance abuse;
treatment, prevention, and recovery; service delivery and practice
issues; research; data; and grants. Topics include health reform, health
information technology, mental health systems of care, and the specific needs
of military families. Some materials are available in Spanish. Initiatives include
Caring for Every Child's Mental Health. Information about and materials to support this communications campaign to stimulate support for a comprehensive system of care approach to children's mental health services. Includes National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day materials and resources about systems-of-care and early childhood mental health.
Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion Associated
with Mental Health (ADS Center). Information about what works to promote acceptance and social inclusion of
people with mental health challenges in schools, communities, and workplaces.
Includes training tools and resources to help create initiatives to promote social
inclusion. Other resources address language, the media, policy and legislation,
research, education, culture, gender, employment, rural communities, housing,
faith communities, and substance use disorders.
- Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership). Program and conference information, webinars, reports, an electronic newsletter, and other resources to support local communities in their efforts to successfully develop and implement systems of care to meet the mental health needs of children, adolescents, and families. The TA Partnership is a collaboration between the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health and the American Institutes for Research with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Think:Kids. Rethinking Challenging Kids. Information about and resources to support this evidence-based approach for helping children with behavioral challenges. Resources are designed for mental health professionals, pediatricians, the leadership and staff of therapeutic facilities, educators, and parents and include an assessment tool, implementation guide, training videos, and podcasts. Think:Kids is a program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Data and Statistics
and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI): Data Resource
Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DRC).
Data from the National Survey of Children's Health and the National
Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. Browse national
and state findings on hundreds of child health indicators, or download
state snapshot profiles. See National
Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs Chartbook 2009–2010 (2013).
and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC):
Annual Disability Statistics Compendium. Disability statistics published by various federal agencies. Topics include population and prevalence, employment, time trend population statistics, poverty, earnings, veterans, health insurance coverage, health, Social Security Administration programs, Medicaid and Medicare, special education, vocational rehabilitation, federal government spending and employment, international disability statistics, and population statistics by disability type.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA): Data, Outcomes, and Quality (DOQ).
Select View Reports By Topic, Children and Families.
- Search the following databases for access to additional data and statistics
about children and youth with emotional, behavioral, and mental health conditions.
NCEMCH resource brief, Maternal
and Child Health Data and Statistics, describes these
databases and offers tips for searching them.
Child Trends DataBank
Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP): HCUPnet
Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)
National Quality Measures Clearinghouse
Title V Information System (TVIS)
Journal Articles and Other Literature and Research
News and Commentary
Mental Health Network: Friday Update. This weekly newsletter
presents news and analysis of key issues focused on children, adolescent
and family mental
health and well-being.
Technical Assistance Center for
Children's Mental Health: Data
This interactive forum presents a new topic for discussion
each month, often based on current literature. Visitors
can read the article, browse additional resources,
review posted comments, post their own comments,
and access previous discussions to facilitate increased
interaction and discussion
about children's mental health.
Adolescent transition, the medical home model, and
school mental health programs are among the topics
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA News. This bimonthly newsletter offers
news and information about
SAMHSA campaigns and initiatives,
grants, data, treatment updates,
and new publications about substance
use and the prevention and treatment
of mental health challenges.
- Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health: TA Partnership
Newsletter. This bimonthly electronic newsletter contains current child and family mental
health news, research updates, funding opportunities, and event listings.
Each issue also
contains articles that feature innovative and promising activities from system-of-care communities around the country.
Resources for Families
Resources for Schools
Resources on Specific Conditions
- Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CECMHC). Online tutorials, self-assessment tools, and resource guides to help Head Start
programs build a strong mental health foundation for program staff and enrolled
children and families. Includes a tutorial about recognizing and addressing
trauma in the
early care and education setting, evidence-based strategies for teaching young
children with challenging
ideas for promoting social and emotional development in the classroom and at
home, and audio clips of relaxation exercises
in English and Spanish to promote staff wellness. CECMHC is part of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD).
- National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC). A collection of resources about early childhood mental health, social-emotional development, and challenging
behaviors. Topics include early identification, home visiting, intervention with young
children, federal legislation and initiatives, and systems of care and funding
for children's mental health services. Includes contact information for state agency staff responsible for implementing the early childhood provisions
of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and for Department of Education–funded early childhood projects.
NECTAC is the national early childhood technical assistance center supported
by the Department of Education (ED).
- Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI). Teaching tools, training materials, issue briefs, and research syntheses for early childhood educators, health professionals, administrators, and families about evidence-based practices to address social skills and challenging behavior in young children. The center is funded by the Department of Education.
- Zero to Three. A wealth of research-based resources to promote early childhood mental health by supporting and strengthening families, communities, and those who work on behalf of infants and children from birth to age 3. Topics include challenging behavior, child maltreatment, impact of trauma, mental health screening and assessment, and building early childhood systems.
- Lyman DR, Holt W, Dougherty RH. 2010. State Case Studies of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Systems: Strategies
for Change. New York, NY: Commonwealth Fund.
- Also see the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) report, Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Young Children in the Child Welfare System: What Every Policymaker Should Know (2010) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) brief, Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Young Children and Their Families (2010).
Use of Seclusion and Restraints
to Prevent Restraint, Aversive
Interventions and Seclusion
(APRAIS). Fact sheets, articles, position
papers, and other resources for families, educators,
and policymakers about the
risks of using aversive interventions,
restraints, and seclusion
and the benefits of using
positive behavior supports
to respond to or control
challenging behavior in schools, treatment programs, and
residential facilities. Includes
steps parents can take to
protect their children from abusive interventions. Led by TASH, APRAIS is composed of members from leading disability advocacy organizations.
- Department of Education (ED): Restraint and Seclusion. A resource guide, reports, and policies about the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Seclusion and Restraint. Action plan, guide, issue briefs, reports, and other resources about promoting alternatives to the use of seclusion and restraint in mental health and behavioral health services.
- Technical Assistance Center
on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).
Planning, implementation, and evaluation tools for identifying, adapting,
school-wide disciplinary practices. Includes video clips, training tools,
presentation materials, and a review of the evidence base for PBIS. Includes
information for state PBIS coordinators. Some resources are available in
- Also see the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) issue brief, Preventing the Use of Restraint and Seclusion with Young Children: The Role of Effective, Positive Practices (2011).
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN): Military Children and Families. Resources for families, educators, and health and social services professionals about family functioning and support and stressors related to relocation, parental separation during deployment, family reunification and reintegration, and traumatic grief.
- National Military Family Association (NMFA): Mental Health Care. Information and resources about military deployment and its effect on the mental
health of military family members and on the well being of children. Includes toolkits for adults who work with children and adolescents whose parents are in the military. Also includes information about accessing mental health care in TRICARE, the Department of Defense worldwide health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families and survivors.
- Zero to Three: Coming Together Around Military Families. Information and resources for professionals and families about the needs of infants and children from birth to age 3 whose parents are experiencing military deployment, reunification, and relocation.
- See the federal interagency policy committee report, Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment (2011).
- Also see the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) brief, Trauma Faced by Children of Military Families: What Every Policymaker Should Know (2010).
Parental Depression and Other Mental Health Concerns
- National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA). Resources for health and social services professionals, educators, clergy, and families about children and adolescents affected by parental alcohol and drug addiction.
- National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW). Online training tutorials, literature reviews, reports, federal and state policy
tools and legislation, and other resources for health, social services, and
court professionals and legislators about systems and practice for families
with substance use disorders
who are involved
systems. Topics include families with substance use, mental health conditions,
and co-occurring disorders. NCSACW is a service of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. 2009. Maternal Depression Can Undermine the Development of Young Children. Cambridge, MA: Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. [Working paper].
- England MJ, Sim LJ, eds. 2009. Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. [Report, executive summary].
- Santoro K, Peabody H. 2010. Identifying and Treating Maternal Depression: Strategies and Considerations for Health Plans. Washington, DC: National Institute for Health Care Management Research and Educational Foundation. [Issue brief].
- See NCEMCH knowledge paths, Depression During and After Pregnancy, Health
and Wellness for Adolescent Girls and Women with Mental and Behavioral Health
Conditions, and Maternal Distress in the Perinatal Period and Child Outcomes.
Related NCEMCH Resources
- Adolescent Violence Prevention knowledge path (Includes Violent Crime Victims section), family resource brief, school resource brief
- Autism Spectrum Disorder knowledge path, family resource brief, school resource brief
- Bullying resource brief
- Child Maltreatment resource brief
- Children and Adolescents Exposed to Violence resource brief
- Children and Adolescents with Special Health Care Needs knowledge path, family resource brief, school resource brief
- Community Services Locator: An Online Directory for Finding Community Services for Children and Families knowledge path
- Health and Wellness for Adolescent Girls and Women with Mental and Behavioral Health Conditions knowledge path, family resource brief
- Intimate Partner Violence knowledge path, family resource brief
- Medications resource brief
- Reaching Out to Children and Youth Following Disasters resource brief
- Screening resource brief
- Sleep in Infants, Children, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women knowledge path, family resource brief, school resource brief
- Social and Emotional Development in Children and Adolescents knowledge path,
family resource brief, school resource brief
- Suicide Prevention resource brief
- Tobacco, Alcohol, and Substance Use in Children and Adolescents resource brief
Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Challenges in Children and Adolescents:
Knowledge Path, 3rd ed. (July 2011). (Updated: August 2014).
Author: Susan Brune Lorenzo,
Reviewers: Lauren Agoratus, M.A., Family Voices and Family-to-Family Health Information Resource Center at the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of N.J.; Olivia Pickett, M.A., M.L.S., NCEMCH; Judi Siegel, L.I.C.S.W., Children's Hospital Boston; Sandy Swan, M.L.S., M.P.H., C.H.I.S., Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library.
Editor: Ruth Barzel, M.A., NCEMCH.