Community Services

Mental Health/Substance Use

Introductory Information

The mental health system has many different services, and each has their own criteria and providers. The mental health system is different from other systems in that families have more choices of providers. This is both a benefit and a challenge. The benefit is having options to choose from, and the challenge is knowing how to navigate those options and select the best one. Here we provide some tips for selecting a provider, and an overview of the available types of mental health services. You can access more information from the National Institute of Mental Health NIMH


Many services require a serious emotional disturbance. Click here for a definition of serious emotional disturbance in Montana.

Healthy Montana Kids Plus is also known as Medicaid. Healthy Montana Kids Basic or Extended are known as HMK and were previously known as CHIP. You can apply for either program online, or visit the local Office of Public Assistance.

The state agency that oversees Medicaid mental health for youth is the Children’s Mental Health Bureau within the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). 

Tips for Selecting a Provider

The best way to find a good fit is to ask people you know for recommendations. Consider friends, family members, school counselors, school psychologists, teachers, and your doctor. Have an idea of what you would like to be different in your family’s life, and what the goal of seeking counseling/services would be. Also think about what type of personality or style might be a good fit for the youth or your family, and what might not be. Feel free to ask about their approach and the types of strategies they use. Also feel comfortable asking whether they have a specialty and what their experience is. Ask about scheduling flexibility and how they can respond in crisis. For mental health centers, what is the process to get services set up? How long does it take? If you want in-home services, what does that look like? How many hours a week? For how long? Shop around. Also express any concerns or worries you have upfront.

Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy provides individual, family, and group counseling. Mental health therapists can be: licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), licensed clinical professional counselors (LCPC), and psychologists. Most insurance covers outpatient therapy, but it varies based on the diagnosis, how often sessions happen, and for how long. There may be some restrictions on what services a youth can receive during the same time as outpatient therapy. Additionally, private practice therapists have their own specializations, insurances accepted, and individual eligibility requirements. Most outpatient therapists see clients in an office setting, though some will also come to the home. Therapists through licensed mental health centers are more likely to provide in-home sessions.

For Helena providers, see below.

Contact Information

Outpatient Provider Directories
Low Cost Therapy
Grief Counseling
Substance Abuse

Adult & Child Counseling Services


Counseling Consortium


Helena Out Patient Mental Health Providers

Medication Management

Medication management refers to medications for mental health issues and can be provided by a primary care practitioner, a psychiatrist, or an Advanced Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (APRN). It generally requires an initial medication evaluation, with regular follow up appointments with the youth and family about how the medications are working. It is covered by most insurances. Some practitioners require a referral from another professional, and some will accept self referrals from parents. Some Urgent Care Clinics will prescribe medications for youth ages 12 and up.

Case Management

Case Management provides linkage to resources and helps coordinate services. It is helpful when a child and family has complex needs across many areas of life, and are receiving several types of services.

Case Management is a licensed mental health center service and requires a serious emotional disturbance. It is primarily covered by Healthy Montana Kids Plus. 

Family Based Services

Family Based Services provide in-home therapeutic supports for children and families. They focus on parenting skills, family dynamics & relationships, and other skills needed for the child to be safe and successful in the home.

Family Based Services are a licensed mental health center service and require a serious emotional disturbance. Youth must have attempted other community services. They are primarily covered by Healthy Montana Kids Plus, generally up to one year. Healthy Montana Kids Extended may cover shorter periods of this service if the youth is at risk of out of home placement. Each licensed mental health center has its own model for how they deliver this service. Some models include additional hours of behavioral support with a therapeutic aide. This service is also known as Home Support Services.

School Based Mental Health

School based mental health provides in-school therapeutic support for youth. A therapist and behavioral specialist offer individual & group therapy and classroom support. They focus on social skills, emotional development, and behavioral support.

School based Mental Health is primarily covered through Healthy Montana Kids Plus, though other insurance may cover it to some extent. It requires a serious emotional disturbance. This service is also known as Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT). It is a different resource than a school counselor or psychologist. For more information, see Helena area Schools.

We have listed the mental health centers providing school based mental health in the Helena Area. However, the school the youth is attending will determine which provider the youth will work with.

AWARE provides services for Bryant, Central and Lincoln Elementary Schools, and C.R. Anderson Middle School

Intermountain provides services for Broadwater, Four Georgians, Rossiter, and Smith Elementary Schools; C.R. Anderson and Helena Middle Schools; Capital and Helena High Schools; East Helena Schools - East Gate and Radley Elementary Schools, and East Valley Middle School; Clancy School and Montana City School.

Contact Information

Helena Providers

Therapeutic Group Home

Therapeutic group homes provide mental health support, stability, and supervision to youth who are struggling to be successful at home. All of the therapeutic group homes in Helena are in local community/neighborhood settings, though some others in the state are campus based. Therapeutic group homes in Helena each house 4-6 youth, and specific ages depend on the group home and agency. They have support staff and a home manager, supervised by a licensed therapist.

Youth must have attempted other community services, and must have a serious emotional disturbance. Healthy Montana Kids Plus and Healthy Montana Kids covers the therapeutic component, but generally another funding source needs to pay room and board. This may include Youth Court, Child and Family Services, or Children's Mental Health Bureau. 

Contact Information

Therapeutic Group Home Providers

Acute Inpatient Hospitalization

Acute hospitalization provides short-term, inpatient services in a secure hospital setting. It focuses on evaluation, stabilization of symptoms, and referral to other services as needed. Treatment is provided by clinical social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, addiction counselors, pharmacists, dieticians, and other healthcare professionals under the direction of a psychiatrist.

Youth access acute care through the Emergency Room. Healthy Montana Kids Plus and most insurance covers acute hospitalization. It has an average length of stay of 7 days but can be shorter or longer based on need and authorization. With some insurance programs, all other mental health services must stop while youth are in acute care except for limited discharge planning.  Referral from a mental health provider or a primary care physician are needed to access services outside of Helena. 

Residential Care

Residential Care provides longer term mental health services in a secure hospital setting. Youth are placed on a unit with other youth of similar age. They receive group, individual, and family therapy, and other therapeutic and recreational activities. They may also receive specialized treatment depending on the youth’s identified issues and needs. Residential care provides for all of the day to day needs for a youth in care, such as medical, mental health, and school.

Residential care is for youth who cannot receive the level of intervention they need in the home and community safely. Youth must have attempted other services and have a serious emotional disturbance. Length of stay can span several weeks to a month or longer. Coverage varies across insurance companies. 

Crisis Services

There are a few options for youth crisis services in Helena. For youth already receiving services through a mental health center, the mental health center is responsible to offer some form of after-hours crisis response.  Youth and families needing after hours crisis response should call 9-1-1 or the Emergency Room.

Contact Information

Emergency Room

Wilderness Therapy and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Wilderness Therapy is an intensive intervention for youth ages 14-17 to help struggling youth change direction, find motivation, build self-worth and insight, develop interpersonal skills, and better understand the connection between their actions and consequences. Youth engage in a variety of therapeutic activities, including group and individual therapy, journal writing, group initiatives, as well as an academic curriculum. Youth enter a wilderness setting for 4-6 weeks with a 2:1 youth to staff ratio. The family stays highly involved while the youth is enrolled with structured weekly sessions and skill building to prepare for the youth's return home.

The program explores several options with the families for covering cost which may include: sliding fee scales, insurance, payment by agencies involved in the youth's life, or scholarship.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) incorporates horses experientially for emotional growth and learning.  It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals.  Because of its intensity and effectiveness, it is considered a short-term or “brief” approach.  EAP is experiential in nature.  This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviors, and patterns.

Contact Information

Wilderness Therapy
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy