Shedding spotlight on children’s mental health

Published 9:16 am Friday, May 15, 2009

Since May is Mental Health month, we would like to bring to the attention of the community, services directed toward the enhancement of children’s mental health. As a unit of Freeborn County Department of Human Services, the Children’s Mental Health Unit offers assistance to its county residents on a voluntary basis.

The CMH unit offers three programs: Children’s Mental Health Case Management, In-Home Family Based Counseling, and The Options Program:

There are three full-time case managers for children and adolescents with a mental health diagnosis. This is a voluntary service and referrals come from the community, medical staff, school personnel, probation workers, etc. The purpose of the service is to help families identify areas of need, strengths within their families, and to locate services for their child. It is the goal of case management to assist families in becoming self-sufficient in managing these services for their child.

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There are three family-based counselors on staff taking referrals for the In-Home Counseling program. Referrals for families with children from infancy through 18 years come from other social workers in the agency, medical staff, schools, court services, and some self-referrals. Counseling goals are developed with the family and services are provided mainly in the home.

Freeborn County has three counselors placed in the Options Program at Southwest Middle School and the Albert Lea High School as a collaborative effort with School District 241. These social workers provide social skills, group, and recreational therapy to youths with a mental health diagnosis and who are identified by the school district through their Individualized Education Program.

For anyone interested in more information regarding Children’s Mental Health, there are three Web sites which would be useful:

For more specific information regarding services from Freeborn County Children’s Mental Health Unit, please call me at 377-5453.

Kathy Tjepkema is the supervisor of Freeborn County Children’s Mental Health. She can be reached at 377-5453.