When to Call a Mental Health Specialist

When your child has a cold or fever, there are obvious symptoms that let you know when to seek a doctor’s advice. But when you’re concerned about your child’s psychological or emotional wellbeing, the signs are not always so clear. It can be difficult to know for sure whether you need professional help.

The Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, can help you figure out the answer.

Some signs to look for include the following:

  • a sudden change in your child’s mood or behavior
  • overwhelming academic challenges
  • having difficulty with social or family relationships
  • feeling overly sad, anxious, angry, or aggressive

If you’re unsure about whether to get professional help, or how to find it, start by speaking with other people in your child’s life, such as a family member, teacher, or pediatrician. If others are also concerned, a consultation with a mental health professional may be helpful.

Types of Mental Health Professionals

All Child Study Center mental health providers assess, evaluate, and treat psychiatric disorders.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medication when necessary, in addition to providing other therapies. Psychologists have experience in using proven treatments for a variety of childhood mental health issues.

Neuropsychologists provide an expansive assessment of the factors that can impact academic achievement and any challenges your child is having adjusting to the school environment.

Other types of mental health professionals include social workers, licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family counselors, nurse practitioners, and pastoral counselors.

Types of Mental Health Treatment

Our mental health professionals provide a host of different treatments, and the treatment offered to your child is the one we believe has the greatest potential for improving his or her symptoms. 

Psychopharmacology Treatment

For many patients, the most effective psychiatric treatment involves the thoughtful combination of regular therapy and carefully prescribed medication, also known as psychopharmacology. Our team of board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and training psychiatrists are experts in evaluating the need for medication. We provide ongoing monitoring of your child’s care in close collaboration with other members of the treatment team.

Before we begin medication treatment, we discuss fully the potential benefits and side effects. We talk with you and your child about when and which medication makes the most sense. When we begin any medication treatment, we make sure to get ongoing feedback from our patients, their families, and, when appropriate, their school. We also use rating scales that can help monitor change in an objective way. 

Choosing a Mental Health Professional

When selecting a mental health professional, it is important to consider the person’s professional training, credentials, areas of expertise, and experience. It’s also important that both you and your child feel comfortable with the therapist. Having confidence in the person you select to treat your child is essential to establishing a positive working relationship and important when facing difficult moments or decisions.

Parents often benefit from an initial consultation or one or two sessions with and without your child before making a decision about ongoing treatment. Successful therapy usually requires an investment of time and energy on the part of the professional, parents, and child.

The therapist may act as a guide, instructor, coach, sounding board, or confidante. The parents and child, however, must also participate and take responsibility for putting what is learned into practice. Treatment is most successful when everyone involved helps monitor change and progress.

Dr. Alan Schlechter and Dr. Rahil Jummani

Dr. Alan Schlechter and Dr. Rahil Jummani discuss a patient at the Child Study Center.

What to Expect at the Child Study Center

When you call our care management team to schedule an appointment, you are put in contact with one of our care management coordinators. He or she will guide you through the process and be your contact person at the Child Study Center. You will be asked to fill out some questionnaires to help us match you with the right mental health professional or team for your child and family.

The care management coordinator then schedules your appointment for an evaluation. A comprehensive evaluation is critical to properly guide care. During the evaluation, we learn about your child and family, and collaborate with you to create a plan of care.

For more information about our care, please call 646-754-4958 or email csc.care@nyumc.org.