Mental Health Assessments For Kids

Children with behavioral or mental health issues may be referred to a therapist for a mental health assessment.  But just what is an assessment and how is it used?  We asked Eliza Lower, who is a supervisor for the school-based counseling program at Orchard Place.

"For parents, it's quite a few questions, but overall it's easy," said Lower.  "Every child starts with an assessment for therapy and based on that; the therapist will decide what services, if any, are necessary moving forward. This might include ongoing therapy sessions, referrals to additional services such as psychiatry or BHIS services, or nothing at all."

The more information parents provide, the easier it will be to determine the next steps.  If parents withhold information, it is harder and may take longer to help the kids get the help that they need.

"Parents can be afraid that something is wrong.  However, it's more likely that a child is lacking skills or missing something that we can identify and work on problem-solving," Says Lower. "Sometimes just doing the assessment will help parents connect the dots to a stressful or traumatic event and the behavior."

She advises parents that if they notice something that seems developmentally inappropriate and it's happening in more than one setting that a mental health provider should be called upon for help.  When there is a pattern of behavior that seems a bit ‘off' the earlier it can be identified and treated, the sooner the child can return to being a happy kid. 

For more information about mental health assessments for children or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, contact the Orchard Place Child Guidance Center at 515-244-2267 or by email: