There is a strong connection between substance use disorders and mental health. Substance use can sometimes lead to mental health concerns—and vice versa—and both substance use and mental health issues often have similar causes, such as experiencing trauma. Child welfare and other related professionals should understand the connections between these two topics, know how to screen and assess for both substance use and mental health issues, and provide referrals to the appropriate supports and services.
Building Your Program: Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders (PDF - 673 KB)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services (2009)
Offers guidance for developing an integrated treatment model for addressing co-occurring mental and substance use disorders across systems.
Child Mind Institute
Presents information about efforts to advance brain science to improve the diagnosis and treatment of childhood mental illness and provides information and resources for families on how they can get help.
Children and Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health
Offers information on what to look for and when to seek help for children experiencing mental illness or emotional difficulties. The webpage reviews steps parents or caregivers can take and how to engage professionals to help.
Children's Mental Health
Florida Department of Children and Families
Describes the Children's Mental Health Program in Florida, which provides family-driven, youth-guided, and evidence-based services and supports to families.
Child Welfare Training Toolkit: Helping Child Welfare Workers Support Families With Substance Use, Mental Health, and Co-Occurring Disorders
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare
Provides a training for child welfare workers about substance use and co-occurring disorders among families involved in the child welfare system. The training comprises seven modules on topics such as understanding substance use disorders, treatment, and recovery; case planning; engagement and intervention; and more.
Data and Statistics on Children's Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020)
Provides information on mental disorders in children, including facts on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, behavior problems, anxiety and depression, and rates of these by age. The webpage also describes access to mental health treatment for children and their families.
Mental Health Conditions Seen in Childhood
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Reviews warning signs of mental health disorders in children and lists and describes some common childhood mental health diagnoses.
Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope
Mental Health America
Describes warning signs and symptoms of mental illness for adults, young adults, adolescents, older children, and younger children. The webpage also offers ways to help cope with mental illness through a support network, counseling, and other methods.
Module 3: Understanding Co-occurring Substance Use Disorders, Mental Health/Trauma, and Domestic Violence (PDF - 4,782 KB)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (2019)
Offers training to support child welfare professionals in identifying and recognizing hallmark symptoms of mental health disorders and their interaction with trauma, domestic violence, and substance use disorders in order to better connect families with appropriate treatment.
National Council for Behavioral Health, State Associations of Addictions Services
Presents the website of a membership organization consisting of more than 2,200 community behavioral/mental health and addiction treatment organizations serving more than 8 million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addictions in the United States.
NASW Standards for Social Work Practice With Clients With Substance Use Disorders (PDF - 146 KB)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) (2013)
Defines the scope of services that social workers provide to clients with substance use disorders, including co-occurring mental health issues, that clients and their families should expect, and that program administrators should support. The standards are also designed to enhance awareness of the skills, knowledge, values, methods, and sensitivities that social workers need to work effectively within systems dedicated to serving clients with substance use disorders.
Substance Use and Mental Health in Teens and Young Adults: Your Guide to Recognizing and Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders (PDF - 4,710 KB)
Child Mind Institute & Center on Addiction (2019)
Provides guidance on effective treatments for addressing substance use disorders and mental health disorders common in adolescence.
Supporting Recovery in Parents With Co-Occurring Disorders in Child Welfare
Ward, Barry, Laliberte, & Meyer-Kalos (2016)
Practice Notes, 26
Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
Offers guidance on creating and maintaining a recovery-oriented approach in addressing substance use disorders among child welfare-involved parents.