For Parents & Caregivers

Resources for Parents & Caregivers

Talking to Children about Tragedy

In response to another tragic event in our country–this time in our home town–please feel free to consult the following resources to guide your conversations with your children:

Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Child’s Mental Health but are Afraid to Ask

Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) has developed this handbook to educate families about mental health and guide them through an often difficult journey. Hard copies of this handbook are available free of charge from JFCS counseling services. In addition, a pdf of the handbook is available online here.

Contact the JFCS director director of clinical services 412-422-7200 or for a hard copy or for more information, and visit the JFCS website at

Allegheny County Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Guides

The Allegheny County Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Guide is a comprehensive guide to the services offered by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health and their Bureau of Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services. There are extensive lists of contact information for each of the services offered. Get the guide here.

In addition, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services also offers a parent’s guide to taking charge of your child’s mental health. Get that guide here.

Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms and Helping Your Child (shared with permission from

According to this article, it is estimated that one in five adolescents will suffer from depression at some point during their teen years, although most never seek help. We often think that it is perfectly normal for teens to be moody, but it is important to know the warning signs of more serious issues. Some signs of a depression can include problems at school, substance abuse, low self-esteem, reckless behavior, and even violent tendencies.

Teen depression is much different than adult depression because their brains and bodies are still developing, and it is up to parents and adults in their lives to recognize their behaviors and help them to seek treatment. If you believe that your teen is suffering from more than just “growing pains,” it is important to help them and encourage a healthy lifestyle without causing more stress. Encouraging social connection and physical activity is important as well as formal treatment and being a trusted confidant.

Read the full article here.

Depression in Teens: The Warning Signs and How to Help Them Through

Karen Young for writes that depression is often difficult to recognize, especially in teens who often display a wide range of emotions: sadness, hopelessness, lethargy, or lack of engagement. However, depression should be considered when these emotions occur in “combination, duration, or intensity that start to interfere with day-to- day life.” It is important to be able to recognize the signs that your teen may be depressed, including a wide and often sudden change in emotions, lethargy, physical pain, difficulty concentrating, and isolation. All of these factors can be normal teen behavior, or they can be something more serious, so it is always important to keep tabs on your teen’s behavior to know they’re “normal.”

If you suspect that your teen is depressed, know the steps to help them:

  • It is important to first get a diagnosis in order to fully assess the situation.
  • Encourage socialization with peers, whether that means joining a club or sport, getting an after-school job, or volunteering.
  • Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on—don’t add to their stress.

Read the full article here.

Symptoms of Depression in Teenagers

Signs of depression can be difficult to recognize in teenagers. Often, depression can masquerade as normal adolescent moodiness. However, early intervention is critical for helping teenagers cope with depression–and this starts with recognizing the symptoms of depression. Read the full article from Child Mind Institute here.

Psychiatry Resources for Children in Allegheny County

A short list of useful resources and places to contact in Allegheny County–compiled by the Community Care Behavioral Health Organization–for when your child needs psychiatry. See the list here.

Teachers College Smarter Parenting (and Grandparenting) Series

In a series of podcasts, the experts at Teachers College from Columbia University present information and techniques on how to navigate child development. Topics covered include: youth mental health, knowing when and how to help; setting limits, positive discipline; risk taking; and the place of spirituality in a child.

Listen to the podcasts here.

Mental Health America

In their article, “What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health,” Mental Health America outlines various tactics for parents to identify and tend to their children’s emotional needs. Topics covered include: unconditional family love, self-confidence, play time, supportive adult figures, safe surroundings, appropriate discipline, warning signs, and seeking help.

Read the article at:

Allegheny Family Network CHATLine

Call 1-888-273-2361.

The AFN Chat Line is a confidential support line that family members can call for support. They offer resources and general information on raising children with emotional and mental health needs.

For more information, visit:

Professionals Share Messages for Parents

LEAD Pittsburgh asked many behavioral health professionals, “What one message would you give to parents regarding tending to their child’s behavioral health?” Then, we compiled the many insightful, important and helpful responses.

Read the advice shared in Messages to Parents 2016.

Please note: this is not a comprehensive list of mental health resources. If you need more information, please reach out to a medical professional for assistance.