Today, focus on the mental health of children

Published 10:40 am Thursday, May 6, 2010

Since May 6, 2010, has been designated as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, we would like to make the community aware of services offered through the Freeborn County Department of Human Services. The Children’s Mental Health Unit of Freeborn County has three programs offering: Children’s Mental Health Case Management, In-Home Family Based Counseling and The Options Program.

There are three full-time Children’s Mental Health 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. This service functions to assist families in identifying areas of need, strengths within their families, and guidance in locating 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.

The Freeborn County In-Home Counseling program is staffed by three family based counselors. These services are available to county residents for families with children from infancy through 18 years of age. These can be self-referrals or referrals from other community agencies. Counseling goals are developed with the family and services are provided in the home or if preferred, in the office.

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In collaboration with the Albert Lea School District, Freeborn County has three counselors placed in the Options Programs at Southwest Middle School and the Albert Lea High School. These social workers provide social skills, group counseling, and recreational therapy to youths with mental health diagnoses. These students are referred by their school district through their Individualized Education Program.

Three useful websites regarding Children’s Mental Health are:

For more specific information regarding services through the Freeborn County Children’s Mental Health Unit, please contact:

Kathy Tjepkema at 377-5453 or

Kathy Tjepkema is the supervisor of Freeborn County Children’s Mental Health.