MGH Home SchoolPsychiatry Home Page


If your child has a mental health condition that causes difficulties at school with peers, teachers, or academics, you are not alone — about 20 percent of children and adolescents at any given time are significantly affected by symptoms of a mental health condition. As the parent or guardian of such a child, you may be feeling frustrated, worried, confused, and, more than anything else, unsure about what can be done to help.

The web site was created for parents, educators, clinicians and clinicians-in-training to identify and support the needs of children and adolescents with mental health conditions. When these needs are understood and properly supported, life at school, at home, and with peers can improve dramatically.

This site contains information about recognizing and treating a range of mental health conditions in young people and making appropriate accommodations at school and at home.

How to Use This Site

The site is intended for parents who are just starting to explore the possible causes of their child’s difficulties, as well as for parents whose child has already received a diagnosis from a trained clinician.

Information is provided in five main sections:

  • Child/Adolescent Mental Health Information
    If you’ve been told, or you suspect, that your child has a mental health condition, click on Child/Adolescent Mental Health Information to read about common mental health conditions that affect children and adolescents. You can learn about symptoms in young people, and how the symptoms can be treated and managed at home and at school.
  • Checklists for Preliminary Mental Health Screening
    If you suspect your child has a mental health condition, and you’re not sure which symptoms are most troublesome, or what your child’s diagnosis might be, click on Checklists for Preliminary Mental Health Screening to find checklists helpful for preliminary mental health screening. These checklists can help you clarify which categories of symptoms should be discussed with teachers and clinicians.

These checklists are not meant for you to diagnose your child based on a particular “score.” They are only an initial indicator of how to categorize the types of symptoms you’ve observed. Diagnosis should be made only by a trained clinician after a thorough evaluation.

  • Screening Tools & Rating Scales
    If you have been told, or you suspect, that your child may have a particular mental health condition, use this section to find screening tools and rating scales. These tools can help you and your child's school and treatment professionals to better understand and define your child's difficulties, and to measure progress after interventions are put in place.

Do not assume that a particular “score” on any of these screening tools or rating scales means a child has a particular disorder—these screening tools and rating scales are just one component of an evaluation. Diagnosis should be made only by a trained clinician after a thorough evaluation.

  • Mental Health in the Classroom
    If your child has been diagnosed with a mental health condition, click on Mental Health in the Classroom for information about helping your child to succeed in school.

    Select Educational Evaluation for general information on the process of working with your child’s school to assess individual needs and tailor a plan to accommodate the child.

    Select School-Based Interventions for information about specific ways the school can help your child.

    Select Creating a Safe School Climate for strategies and recommended steps for communities to foster respect and safety of all students.

    Select Curriculum for Teaching Emotional Self-Regulation Skills to see how teachers and school mental health professionals can incorporate emotional regulation and conflict resolution into the high school English/Language Arts curriculum, using characters in literature as a starting point.

  • Medications
    Here you will find information about medications that are used to treat children and adolescents with mental health conditions. top

Maintaining Perspective During a Complex Process

You will find this web site most helpful if you keep the following points in mind:
  • Mental health conditions, just like physical illnesses such as asthma or diabetes, are experienced differently by each individual, so even a "diagnosis" does not define your child. Each child needs an individualized treatment and accommodation strategy.

  • Your child's treatment plan is more likely to be effective if it takes into account the most up-to-date information about available medications and therapies. You can use information in the Child/Adolescent Mental Health Information section of this web site as a starting point for discussion with your child's treatment professional(s).

  • Your child is more likely to succeed at school and at home if all the important adults in his or her life (including parents/guardians, teachers, administrators, and clinicians) are in agreement about which symptoms receive priority, the treatment plan, and interventions at school and at home. You can use the information in this web site to help the adults in your child's life come to a common understanding and develop a shared plan of action.

  • Your child or adolescent is more likely to buy in to the shared plan of action if given a chance to contribute to the plan. You can use the information in the School-Based Interventions section of this web site as a springboard for discussion with your child about what strategies work best to help him or her succeed.  top

    ©2010 Massachusetts General Hospital, School Psychiatry Program and MADI Resource Center
    Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Department of Psychiatry  | Site Map