Children’s Mental Health

The Children’s Mental Health Division administers policy and practice to ensure effective and accessible mental health services and supports for children and families in Minnesota. The division works together with many public and private partners across the state so that children and youth with mental health needs can develop and function as fully as possible in all areas of their lives.

Emotional or mental health problems can develop at any age. Many children have mental health issues that can seriously affect aspects of their lives:

• Studies estimate that mental health problems affect one in five young people at any given time.

• Many children and youth experience emotional disorders, such as depression, anxiety and attention-deficit, conduct and eating disorders.

• In Minnesota, 9 percent of school-age children and 5 percent of preschool children have a serious emotional disturbance, which is a mental health problem that has become longer lasting and interferes significantly with the child’s functioning at home and in school.

• An estimated 109,000 children and youth, birth to age 21, in Minnesota need treatment for serious emotional disturbances.

• Children and youth with a serious emotional disturbance experience risks related to reduced graduation rates, increased involvement with juvenile corrections and more substance abuse problems.

The Children’s Mental Health Division guides numerous strategic initiatives to more successfully meet and treat the needs of children and youth struggling with or at risk for mental health issues. The division invests resources toward transforming the children’s mental health system to:

• Increase earlier identification and intervention

• Improve access to the right services at the right time

• Establish best practices and improve standards of care

• Coordinate mental health care with school, medical and community environments

Mental health matters at every stage of life and requires an integrated continuum of services ranging from prevention to recovery. The Children’s Mental Health Division is committed to creating consistent quality, access and accountability for these services through comprehensive diagnostic assessments and evidence-based treatments that consider children’s characteristics, circumstances and culture. These efforts will result in better outcomes and reduce health care disparities among children.

News and events

Children’s Mental Health Hospital Discharge/Transition to the Community Action Plan

In 2013, the Children’s Mental Health Division sponsored a workgroup focusing on coming up with solutions to ensure successful hospital discharges for children transition from inpatient levels of care to community or residential treatment children’s mental health services. More than 75 individuals from the metro area and Greater Minnesota, representing parents, consumers, advocacy organizations, county case management providers, hospitals, health plans, county based purchasing organizations, crisis service providers, community-based mental health providers, residential treatment providers, and state agencies), participated in this workgroup. The Hospital Discharge/Transition to the Community Workgroup approved the final list of recommended strategies for a community action plan to enhance the transitions of children and youth to the next level of care in their communities.

The workgroup is also developing a transition checklist, communication forms, an “emergency plan,” and online training.

2013 County Children’s Mental Health Gaps Analysis Survey

Every two years, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) gathers local information about the current capacity and gaps in services and housing needs to support older persons in Minnesota.  The County Gaps Analysis Survey collects responses from all the state’s counties on local capacity to meet the long-term care needs of current residents, including any significant gaps in services or supports.

In 2012, the legislature expanded the required biennial Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Report beyond older adults to include services for people with disabilities and/or mental illness of all ages. The survey added children and adults with mental illness and persons with disabilities to the analysis of long-term care needs of older Minnesota residents. The resulting report summarizes the responses regarding services for these four populations: Status of Long-Term Services and Supports (October 2013)

This full report, 2013 Gaps Analysis Survey: Children’s Mental Health Services, provides a statewide summary of the results and provides an overview of statewide trends in needs, capacity and development. Individual county profiles are also available at the following link: 2013 Gaps Analysis County Profile.

The results presented in this document are based on county self-reports of capacity, or availability of a service, in their service areas. Counties were asked to report on their capacity to meet mental health care needs of children with mental illness through several different service categories, including Outpatient Services, Rehabilitative Services, Mental Health Targeted Case Management, and Residential Treatment Services.

Minnesota’s Collaborative Psychiatric Consultation Service Open for Calls

Minnesota’s consultation service is available to primary care providers, pediatricians, family practice physicians, psychiatrists and other practitioners Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The statewide toll-free number is:


Although children on Medical Assistance fee-for-service are the first priority for this service, the service will take provider calls relating to any type of children’s mental health issue that arises with any child in Minnesota. 

For more information:

Minnesota’s federal block grant application is submitted for 2014-2015

The Chemical and Mental Health Services Administration submitted a combined application for the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Block Grants. The 2014-15 Substance Abuse Block Grant/Mental Health Block Grant (SABG/MHBG) describes the public mental and chemical health systems in Minnesota; identifies needs, priorities, goals and indicators; and proposes uses of block grant funds. 

In accordance with grant requirements, states must submit an annual report on the previous year’s utilization of the grant funds, progress toward the goal targets, and data required for the federal Universal Reporting System Basic and Developmental Tables. The 2012-2013 application, as well as the 2014 MHBG Behavioral Health Report on implementation and progress, is available online.

Public input is sought in developing and updating the application on an ongoing basis. Please provide input in writing to Ann Boerth at the Children’s Mental Health Division, Minnesota Department of Human Services, P.O. Box 64985, St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0985; or e-mail to

Fact sheet

Children’s mental health: Transforming services and supports to better meet children’s needs (September 2013)

Contact information

For more information about the Children’s Mental Health Division, please call (651) 431-2321.

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