What can I try?

Adult Interventions

Advice for parents, teachers, counselors, and other adults.

Let the youth know that you notice their isolation or withdrawal, that you are worried about them, and that you want to help them.


Talk with them about how they are feeling and why they aren’t engaging in their normal activities. Is it one area where they are isolating, or is it across the board?


Notice whether their eating, weight and sleep has also changed. These can be physical indicators of depression.


Keep the youth to a consistent schedule as much as possible.


Give extra encouragement for youth to do normal activities, even when they don’t want to. Praise them when they engage.


Check in with them often and let them know they are not alone.


It is important and O.K. to ask if they are thinking about suicide.  If they are considering suicide ask these questions to try and find out what they are getting out of hurting themselves and what need they are trying to fill.

1) Have you been thinking about dying or what it would be like of you were not here?

2) Is there a situation happening now or one you are worried about that you feel is unbearable?

3) Have you been thinking about ways you might harm yourself?  If yes, what is that plan?


For assistance Call the Montana Suicide lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit http://dphhs.mt.gov/amdd/Suicide.aspx for more information.


24-hour response phone line # 406-461-2382 for help with a crisis.  Caution: If you are experiencing a true emergency (immediate danger of harm to self or others), call 911.

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Who can help?

Get counseling or mental health treatment

There are several different ways to seek counseling or treatment. This includes a private therapist, a school counselor, mental health center services, and/or substance abuse treatment.

Private therapists can be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC), or a psychologist. This is usually covered by insurance and occurs weekly or every other week. Most therapists will individualize treatment and may offer more frequent sessions if needed. Youth may also receive counseling at Schools. This may be in the form of a school counselor who is accessible to all youth. Find out from the teacher who the school counselor is and how you and/or the youth can set up a time with them. The school counselor can give you more information about services available in the school.

Youth in crisis may need more intensive support than outpatient therapy or school counseling. Mental health centers offer a variety of services: case management, in-home services, and individual and family therapy. Some mental health centers also offer medication management. 

24-hour response phone line # 406-461-2382 for help with a crisis.  Caution: If you are experiencing a true emergency (immediate danger of harm to self or others), call 911.

See below for Helena providers and tips for Selecting a Provider.


Contact Information

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Call your doctor.

If you have a primary care doctor, they may be a good place to call first for education, referral, and consultation on your child's behavior. They may be able to rule out a medical reason for the behavior, and can discuss medication as an option. 

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Emergency Room

If youth becomes non-responsive to these interventions and you are concerned about their physical well-being, take youth to the Emergency Room.

Youth can be evaluated in the Emergency Room for mental health issues and possible placement in the hospital. They can arrive with parents, or with the support of law enforcement and/or other professionals. Youth must go through the process of medical screening, which can take several hours. The doctor then determines whether to call in the on-call mental health professional. This is most common when considering a placement in acute inpatient hospitalization. Law enforcement and other professionals are unlikely to stay through this process.

Parents and professionals can call the on-call mental health professional before going to the Emergency Room. The on-call mental health professional will ask for a description of what is occurring and what the concerns are. They may be able to suggest an alternative, or at the least have some information ahead of time.

If a youth needs a hospital placement or more intensive services, the Emergency Room staff explore options. For youth under 12, Shodair Children's Hospital and Billings Clinic are the in-state options. For youth over 12, Saint Patrick Hospital’s Adolescent Inpatient Program and Pathways Treatment Center are also options. If these facilities do not have available beds, there are out of state options. Parents should attempt to transport youth, but can access an ambulance under certain circumstances. Parents must be present through the intake/admission process.

If the youth does not need a hospital placement, Emergency Room staff will explore other options with the family. This may include shelter care, partial hospitalization, a safety plan, and information for follow up services. See Mental Health for more information.

Under some circumstances, parents may decide against the recommendation to hospitalize their child. This is a parent’s right, and other community based options are available. It is important to know that not following this recommendation may result in a report to Child and Family Services from the mental health or medical provider

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