Child and Adolescent Mental Health Outpatient Services

Outpatient services are services that are provided to children in clinics, doctors' offices, schools or other settings. Outpatient treatment is usually the first place for assessment and treatment services for children and adolescents with mental health and behavior problems.

The main outpatient mental health services provided for children in their communities are clinic treatment and day treatment programs. These services are offered by a variety of programs that are licensed by New York State. Families enrolled in a Managed Care or a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) insurance program may also be referred by their insurance carrier to a participating clinic or practitioner, such as a licensed Social Worker or Psychologist.

Contact 988 for Support

988 has a staff of trained mental health professionals that can help callers find the most appropriate mental health and substance abuse services for their needs. Services include counseling, suicide prevention, crisis intervention, peer support, referrals to care, assistance in connecting to the referral, and follow-up services. 988 is free and confidential and operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week via phone, text, and internet chat. 988 is multilingual and multicultural.

Call or text 988 or go to 988, an online resource for individuals, families and agencies in need of help and information. Deaf or hearing impaired callers can dial 711 then 988 (TTY).

Clinic Treatment

A mental health clinic is an office staffed with a group of healthcare providers, including psychiatrists and social workers. The purpose of clinic treatment is to identify and treat emotional disturbance on an outpatient basis, strengthen family functioning, and support children in their natural environments. Most clinic sessions last about an hour and are held one or more times a week. Some clinics have satellite offices, and provide services directly in children's schools. These school-based mental health programs offer services to students and provide consultation on specific students or general mental health issues to teachers and other school staff. Schools may also offer other mental health services. School guidance counselors can provide families with information about services in the school.

Clinic services include:

  • Assessments (psychiatric, psychosocial)
  • Individual, family, and group therapies
  • Medication management
  • Case management
  • Referrals
  • Medication management

Who can get services?

  • Children from birth to age 18 (Please note that not all clinics accept children under 5 years old)
  • Children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges

How to access a clinic

  • Mental Health Clinics in the community: Contact the clinic directly to arrange an appointment. You can get a list of clinics by calling 988, or by visiting the New York State Office of Mental Health's Program Directory
  • School-Based Mental Health Clinics: Contact the clinic directly to arrange an appointment.

NYC Early Childhood Clinics

Specialized mental health treatment services and supports for young children (birth to 5 years) and their families using evidence-based and trauma-focused therapies. Call a clinic in your area (PDF) to make a referral or call 988.

Day Treatment Programs

Day treatment programs provide comprehensive outpatient mental health treatment to young people who are identified as having a serious emotional disturbance by their school districts and are able to live at home or in the community. They offer a combination of treatment and educational services that give children a full day of special activities to address their mental health needs. These programs offer special education in small classes and are for children who need therapy and help throughout the school day. Some day treatment programs are offered in public schools, while others are offered as completely separate programs. Children in day treatment services continue to live at home and in their communities.

Services include:

  • Special education in small classes
  • Treatment planning
  • Medication management
  • Individual, family and group therapies
  • Crisis intervention
  • Interpersonal skill development

Who can get services?

  • Children with mental health disorders that interfere with educational and social functioning
  • Children between the ages of 3-18 (there are two programs in NYC for children age 3-5)
  • Children who cannot be maintained in a regular classroom.

How to access a day treatment program:

  • Referrals can be made directly to the local school district. These referrals can be made directly by parents or the child under certain circumstances. A staff member at the school or district, a doctor, a court officer, or any agency the child may be involved with may also make referrals.
  • For more information, contact the principal or parent coordinator of the child's school or call 988.

More About Child/Adolescent Mental Health Crisis Services