Co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders are extremely complex. Substance use may cause someone with an addiction to experience a mental health episode or crisis, or someone with a mental health diagnosis may use substances to try and manage their mental health symptoms. Either way, child welfare and other related professionals should understand the relationship between the two—including the shared underlying causes and potential changes in brain composition—to know how to assess and provide appropriate treatment referrals for individuals and 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.
Complete Guide to Substance Use and Mental Health
Child Mind Institute (2023)
Offers guidance for when children are struggling with substance use and mental health disorders to help them evaluate the situation and make informed decisions surrounding their treatment.
Co-Occurring Disorders and Other Health Conditions
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Presents information on how those with substance use disorders can be more susceptible to other health conditions, such as mental disorders.
Is There a Link Between Depression and Substance Misuse?
Discusses the link between depressions and substance misuse, recent research that explains the connection, and available treatment options.
Mental Health and Substance Use Co-Occurring Disorders
Explains various symptoms of mental health and substance use co-occurring disorder and ways people can actively engage to support their recovery.
Mental Health Disorders and Teen Substance Use
Child Mind Institute
Emphasizes the risk of teens who struggle with mental health and how misusing substances can exacerbate their current health conditions.
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.
National Council for Mental Wellbeing®
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.
Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness
National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (2020)
Presents data on the comorbidity of substance use disorders with mental illness and physical health conditions.
Substance Use and Mental Health in Teens and Young Adults: Your Guide to Recognizing and Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders (PDF - 4,281 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.