The child welfare field, in line with other social sciences disciplines, has moved toward the use of the term behavioral health to refer to "a state of mental/emotional well-being and/or choices and actions that affect wellness."1 This broader, strength-based perspective of health acknowledges that wellness is a lifelong process that occurs across the domains. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines wellness as overall well-being and encompasses eight domains that can affect the quality of one's life: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual.2 This definition aligns with the three tenants of the Children's Bureau's work—improving the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families, as wellness is part of a child and family's total well-being.
Wellness is not only a goal for children and families involved with child welfare, but also for professionals and the organizations in which they work. Research shows that improving organizational climates in child welfare agencies may enhance outcomes for the children, youth, and families they serve.3 To provide a more holistic view of wellness, this section offers information, materials, and tools for supporting and promoting the behavioral health and wellness of children and families involved with child welfare, in addition to resources on worker and organizational wellness.
The Behavioral Health and Wellness section has replaced both the Mental Health and the Substance Abuse sections on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. Please update your bookmarks.
- Casework practice: Behavioral health & wellness
- Evidence-based practice: Behavioral health
- Worker and organizational wellness
- Cross-system collaboration to support behavioral health & wellness
- Behavioral health & wellness: Federal supports & services
- Substance use disorder treatment services
- Behavioral health resources for children and families
Behavioral Health, United States, 2012
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2012)
Notes the movement toward the term "behavioral health" to encompass both mental health and substance use disorders. This guide provides national estimates on numerous aspects of behavioral health, including the prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders in the United States; the number of people treated for these disorders; and spending on treatment. SAMHSA also provides a variety of information and resources related to substance use and mental health with the goal of improving the overall behavioral health and wellness of individuals, children, and families in the nation.
Integrating Safety, Permanency and Well-Being in Child Welfare
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau (2014)
Intended to further the national dialogue on the topic of well-being and how incorporating and emphasizing well-being in child welfare can result in better outcomes for children and families and the overall child welfare system. This series of papers builds on the Administration on Children, Youth and Families' 2012 information memorandum Promoting Social and Emotional Well-Being for Children and Youth Receiving Child Welfare Services (PDF - 149 KB).
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 299KB)
2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). Eight dimensions of wellness: A holistic guide to whole-person wellness. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness (back)
3 Williams & Glisson. (2014.) Testing a theory of organizational culture, climate and youth outcomes in child welfare systems: A United States national study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(4). doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.09.003 (back)