Know children’s mental health services

Published 10:28 am Thursday, April 19, 2012

By Kathy Tjepkema, Guest Column

Since May 9 will be recognized as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, we would like to share with the community the services offered through the Children’s Mental Health Unit of Freeborn County Department of Human Services.

Kathy Tjepkema

The Children’s Mental Health Unit has three programs for residents of the county: Children’s Mental Health Case Management, In-Home Family-Based Counseling and the Options Program at the Albert Lea High School.

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There are three full-time children’s mental health case managers for children and adolescents with a mental health diagnosis.

This is a service provided on a voluntary basis 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 family and guidance in locating services for their child who is struggling with a mental health issue.

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 experienced family based counselors. These services are available to county residents for families with children from infancy though 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.

Two counselors are placed in the Options Program at the Albert Lea High School. This is a collaborative arrangement with Albert Lea Area Schools that has been in place for over 20 years.

These social workers provide social skills, group counseling and recreational therapy to youths with mental health diagnoses. The students served in this program are referred by their school district through their Individualized Education Program.

Useful websites regarding Children’s Mental Health issues 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.