Parent as case manager

Parents are used to being in charge of the household, checking the homework, researching summer camps, and smiling modestly at award ceremonies.

But mental illness is out of our safety zone. Just like cancer, we go into this believing we must leave the really scary stuff to the professionals. If a mental health professional tells us to sit down we sit down. If a psychiatrist tells us to back off, we comply.

Here's what parents need to know. If you consult 10 mental health professionals you will get 12 sets of answers. Some of them are going to be wrong, some are going to be a waste of time, some are going to be half-right, and some will be able to save your child's future. And no one is going to tell you which is which.

With mental health care you as parent can't be passive. You can't go to the closest clinician or the one who can see you first and stop there. You can't only look at clinicians in your insurance network. You can't read one book and you are done.

As scary as it is, you will need to be the case manager for your child's care. You don't have to be the doctor/psychiatrist/counselor/nutritionist/social worker; you just need to be the case manager. Find good clinicians, develop a relationship of mutual trust with them, ask good questions, and listen to them.

This isn't just your right, it is your responsibility.


  1. Good post, Laura. My older daughter recently went through a situation at the camp where she is a counselor in which a camper disclosed to her cabin mates and counselors that she had recently stopped cutting herself and had been hospitalized for being suicidal; the camper was extremely unhappy for the next few days, until her parents took her home. The illness was news to the camp staff; the parents told the camp director that the psychiatrist told them not to tell the camp so that their daughter could have a clean slate. My thought was that their daughter could have died because of this advice.


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