Family Resources

For a comprehensive list of community resources, please click here to see out BHUSD Resource Guide.

Parents frequently assume that school problems are caused by lack of effort, and that making teens study more will improve their performance. There is often much more to it. It is important to find out the root cause of your teenager’s academic issues. 


Common problems that interfere with academic success:

  • Poor attendance or tardiness. For more on BHUSD attendance, click here
  • Classroom behavior problems, such as: talking in class, not participating
  • Poor study habits
  • Weak organizational skills
  • Overriding teacher recommendations, resulting in improper class placement
  • Being upset about something at home, at school, or with peers that is interfering with their concentration
  • Low self-esteem and not believing that they can achieve
If you think your teen is taking a class that is too advanced, he/she should talk to their school counselor ASAP. To learn about the time frame for program changes.
How to help your student Improve their grades:

Even when the amount of effort invested in schoolwork is deficient, the underlying cause for lack of success in school may be discouragement, rather than behavioral. Dialogue together is the most effective way to get teens thinking about strategies to solve their problems. Below are some suggestions to help your teen make academic improvements.


  • Communicate with your teen. Ask him/her what he/she needs for improvements to be made and if they could use additional support. Some teens may not be able to articulate ideas; they may be overwhelmed and unable to come up with solutions. Let them know that you want to help them make improvements because you care.
  • Review Google Classroom and contact your teen’s teachers to discuss any concerns or suggestions the teachers may have. 
  • Consult with your student's school counselor when you have questions about any matter concerning their academic program or progress in school
For more, click here for the BVMS school counselors tool kit for parents. 

Possible reasons your student is struggling in school:

Teenagers are not only under a lot of stress but they may have a host of other reasons why they are struggling to find academic success. Below is a list created by Paradigm Treatment Center of additional challenges that may impact a teens academic success:

  • Mental health disorders can affect classroom learning and social interactions, both of which are critical to the success of students. However, if appropriate services are put in place to support a young person’s mental health needs we can often maximize success and minimize negative impacts for students. 
  • Learning Disabilities. Most learning disabilities are suspected and confirmed during the elementary school years, but teens with mild learning disabilities or excellent coping methods might not have been. The work gets more difficult and expectations rise during the high school years, so some children are able to succeed in elementary school even with learning disabilities only to find that once they get into the upper grades, the schoolwork seems impossible. A variety of processing disorders, vision issues (such as dyslexia) and other learning disabilities should be screened for during the teen years if academic problems are persistent. ADHD is another disorder that can affect teens and go undiagnosed for many years. 
  • Behavioral issues. Some teens have disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and anger management issues. These can affect school success and should be treated before adulthood.
  • Social anxiety. A teen who is avoiding school or feeling very anxious while in school due to social anxiety is not likely to have good grades. If your adolescent is reluctant to go to school, doesn’t have friends, or shows physical symptoms of stress when they have to speak in front of the class, they might have social anxiety.
  • Depression. Depression can cause a teen to completely lose interest in not only school but also socializing, sports, extracurricular activities, and their part-time job. A teen who is isolating him- or herself in the bedroom, not paying attention to personal hygiene, and crying or showing signs of sadness for two weeks needs an evaluation for depression.
  • Addiction. If your teen is using or abusing alcohol or drugs, they might have a tolerance or addiction to the substance. This often leads to failure in school. Addiction requires specialized care and may become a lifelong battle, so prompt treatment is necessary.
If you feel your student may be struggling with one or more of the above concerns, reach out to your school counselor or for additional mental health support click here to refer your student to short term Maple Center counseling. 
Taking your teen to their primary care physician is a good first step toward ruling out or discovering one or more of these teen academic problems. If a problem is found, you will likely be referred to a specialist of some sort. In addition, your teen might be eligible for special plans at school that will help them to succeed. These could include the IEP and the 504 plan. If you have already worked with teacher(s) and the counselor for assistance and you believe that additional supports are needed, ask your student's school counselor to set up a Student Success Team (SST) meeting.

What is an SST?

Each school site has a Student Success Team (SST) who review concerns about individual students. The SST serves as a general education problem-solving process and is a forum to support classroom teachers in their effort to provide quality classroom experiences for all of their students. The SST is a general education process that is neither a function of special education nor an automatic process for referral and/or assessment for special education services. 


What should I request an SST?

  • Once a parent has made contact with a students’ teachers and school counselor, and the parent/student feels that additional supports are needed, the parent/student can ask the school counselor for an SST meeting.  The counselor then contacts the school administrator to schedule a meeting.
  • At the SST, the parent should bring any relevant information such as recent medical diagnosis, reports from outside therapists, doctors or support providers to share with the team if there is a health condition impacting a student’s school performance.
  • The counselor will gather information from teachers about school progress and will share that data with the team at the meeting. 
  • The team will then recommend additional school supports for the student based on all information reviewed.
  • Both the parent and student voice are critical to the success of this process.  Please have your student attend the meeting to give input.
For more information on the SST process, click here


What is a 504?

To qualify for Section 504 protections, the student must have a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity. 

1. Physical impairment means any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, immune, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.

2. Mental impairment means any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disability.

3. Substantially limits major life activities means limiting a person's ability to perform functions, as compared to most people in the general population, such as caring for himself/herself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, writing, communicating, and working. Major life activities also includes major bodily functions such as functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions, as well as the operation of an individual organ within a body system.

A parent/guardian, teacher, other school employee, or community agency may refer a student to their school counselor for identification as a student with a disability under Section 504. The SST shall be convened to consider the referral is appropriate. This determination shall be based on a review of the student’s school records, including those in academic and nonacademic areas of the school program; consultation with the student’s teacher(s), other professionals, and the parent/guardian, as appropriate; and analysis of the student’s needs. 


For more information about 504 Accommodation plans, click here


How do I know if my student needs special education support?

Special education programs and services are provided to students with identified disabilities which adversely impact the students’ educational program. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines “children with disabilities” to mean children with intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments including deafness, speech or language impairments, visual impairments including blindness, emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments or specific learning disabilities, and who by reason thereof, need special education and related services. Eligible students may have difficulties that interfere with his/her ability to go to school or to learn. These difficulties may be in one of these general areas:


  • Speech and Language Development. Some students may have a very difficult time learning to speak clearly and/or understanding what is said to them.
  • Vision Problems. Some students may have great difficulty seeing objects and/or printed words even though they may already be wearing glasses.
  • Hearing Problems. Some students may have difficulty hearing and/or distinguishing sounds and voices, even with hearing aids.
  • Physical Development. Some students may have trouble learning to walk, move or work with small objects.
  • Academic Development. Some students may have great difficulty learning to read, write or do arithmetic. Young students may have trouble with pre-school skills such as learning shapes and colors.
  • Thinking/Memory Skills. Some students may have more difficulty than others in remembering what they see or hear. As a result, it may be a challenge for them to solve problems in daily living or schoolwork.
  • Attention/Perception Skills. Some students may have difficulty processing or understanding information. As a result, it may be hard for them to pay attention or follow directions.
  • Social/Emotional Development. Some students may have trouble managing their feelings and/or behavior. They may find it very difficult to get along with others. It may be hard for them to make friends or to cope with changes in their lives.
  • Living Skills. Some students may be challenged by day-to-day activities such as dressing, feeding themselves or taking care of their basic health and grooming needs.
  • Other Health Conditions. Some students have serious or chronic medical conditions that may interfere with school attendance or learning.
It's important to note......
  • Special education services require a full school-based educational evaluation, including school testing, to see if a student qualifies for special education services in one of the 13 identified areas of suspected disabilities.  
  • Special education services are considered when a series of traditional school intervention supports, which may include a 504 plan, are not providing enough educational support for a student.  
  • If a parent is requesting testing for special education, an SST team will meet to review the request and will collaboratively determine what prior supports and interventions have occurred through the school district previously.  After reviewing the information, the school team will respond in writing to the parent request for an assessment.
For more information on Special Education Services, click here

No matter what the reason is for your teens' academic problems, let them know that you are there for them. Work together to find the problem and the solution. Knowing that you are on their side will help your teen face whatever is standing between them and good grades.


Bullying prevention takes a community effort to address. Our educators receive training and guidance every year on how to address bullying on our BVMS campus, but we realize that our BVMS families may not always have access to that same guidance. 

Our shared goal is to ensure that BVMS students feel safe and confident in all environments and experts say that when adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send a clear message that it is not acceptable. If we work together to respond quickly and consistently, we may be able to stop bullying behavior over time. 

Types of Middle School Interactions?

Middle school students experience various interactions when socializing with peers, so what are the differences between those interactions and bullying?



  • Teasing is lighthearted, everyone is having fun and participating.
  • There are no power struggles between students.
  • Think: jokes and sarcasm. 


  • A completely normal part of social relationships. 
  • Although no one is happy to be in conflict, there is usually a way to work through conflict.
  • Can lead to bullying if not addressed.
  • Think: arguments, social drama.

Mean Moment

  • A singular event intended to hurt someone.
  • Typically a response to an emotion or event. 
  • Think: cutting in line, anger after being bumped in the hallway.


  • When someone is being hurt and targeted on purpose over a period of time and by the same person or persons. 
  • Can take place socially, physically or emotionally. 
  • Think: a student targeting something they think is weaker than them, students targeting someone with a different religion, sexual orientation, race, gender, family makeup or culture. 


If  you know or suspect your student is experiencing social challenges, it is important to discuss and gather more information. Help your student determine if their experience is teasing, conflict, a mean moment or bullying. 

What Does Bullying Look Like?

We typically associate bullying with children and schools, but bullying can occur anywhere and to anyone. Bullying typically involves a perceived power, strength or intellectual imbalance. Some students may bully others physically, through following, shoving or fighting. Students may also bully others through social isolation or verbally via insults or rumors. 


Unfortunately, if students are the victim of bullying at school, they can no longer escape when leaving campus. The importance of social media in young students' lives often leads to bullying behaviors continuing digitally. Bullying is no longer isolated to the school environment making it more important than ever to collaborate to prevent it.


What Can Families Do if Their Student is Being Bullied?

Students may not always be forthcoming about their social lives. Some non verbal signs of bullying can include:


  • School avoidance
  • Disinterest in social interactions
  • General sadness


It is important to stay calm if you find out that your student may be being bullied. Our students feed off of our energy, so if you panic then they will panic. Instead utilize the following suggestions:



If you determine your student is being bullied, it is important to empower them to learn how they can report it and what steps they can take to get the situation addressed instead of feeling defeated and not taking action. I know as families, we want to save our students from hurt and pain, but it is important that they know you are there to help them while they learn to problem solve and when they report the situation to an administrator. 


Discuss Strategies

Never encourage your student to “fight back.” Instead, work with them to practice how they can handle the real life scenarios they are experiencing. Practice strategies they can use to ignore or assert themselves in a productive and safe way. Work with your student to identify safe adults on campus that they can seek support from if they find themselves in a situation they can’t escape. 

Social Media

Ensure you discuss ways your student can set boundaries on their phones and social media. Remind your child that they can block or ignore others if what that peer is doing is hurtful. It is also important that families are monitoring their students' cell phone and social media use. If your student is receiving threatening messages, families should document those interactions and make sure they are given to school administration and other applicable authorities.


What Can Families Do if Their Student is Being a Bully?

If your student is engaged in bullying behavior, don’t get discouraged. We are all learning how to navigate through life, so use this as an opportunity to show your student how to treat others with grace and respect as well as how they can develop healthy problem solving strategies. Need some parenting support in these areas? We get it! Check out the Parent Course offerings through Maple Center or use the BHUSD resource guide to find some individual or family counseling support. 



It is important that we start by modeling the appropriate way to treat others. Our students are the byproduct of their experiences, so being exposed to aggressive behavior tends to yield students who treat others with aggressive behavior. If we don’t set our own boundaries and expectations for how we want to be treated by others in our life, then our students will not learn how to accept their peers’ boundaries and expectations. 


Talk It Out

If you hear from another family or from your students' school that they are engaging in bullying behavior, do not ignore it or make excuses for your student. Engage your student in a conversation about what you heard, it is possible that your student may not know that what they are doing is hurting someone else or they may open up that there may be some mutual bullying going on between them and their peers. Remind your child that they should never respond to bullying behavior with more bullying behavior. 


Self Esteem

We often see that students who bully may often be struggling with emotional issues of their own. It can be a very human response to put others down to make ourselves feel better. If your student is struggling with self esteem challenges, it may be time to consider finding a professional for them to talk with. 

Social Media

We can’t reinforce this enough. It is important that families are monitoring their students' cell phone and social media use. If you notice your student is bullying others online it is imperative that families address this with the appropriate consequences.  Students who cannot use phones and social media respectfully should not have access to those modes of communication. 

Who Should I Talk to if I Need Support?

If you are unsure whether your student is being affected by bullying, contact your BVMS administrator. A reminder to make sure your student is part of these conversations and is given an opportunity to be involved and advocate for themselves. Our BVMS administrators are:



If you find your child is engaging in bullying behavior or is a victim of bullying, you can submit a referral to BulldogAid for short term individual counseling or use the BHUSD resource guide to start researching counseling support. Counseling can be helpful in giving your student tools to address any feelings behind bullying. 


Want more parent tips and information on how to identify bullying and stand up to it safely? Visit or view the Bullying Prevention for Parents of Middle Schoolers.


Source: APA

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that parents and caregivers develop a family media plan that takes into account the health, education and entertainment needs of each child as well as the whole family. For school-aged children and adolescents, the idea is to balance media use with other healthy behaviors. Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep. Organizations like Common Sense Media can help parents evaluate media content and make decisions about what is appropriate for their family.  AAP recommendations:
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health. 
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
Media usage and exposure resource links:
Click here for the full Article from the AAP.
Click here to create a Family Media Plan.
Click here to visit Common Sense Media.
Tips for Monitoring Kids’ Social Media
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released findings from a comprehensive study on the impact social media has on kids and families. Although there are real benefits to kids using sites like Facebook, including increased communication, access to information and help in developing a sense of self, there can be serious downsides to all this online sharing too.
  • Check Privacy Settings
    Check that your privacy settings for the Internet and Social Media sites are set to the strictest levels. Depending on which browser you are using, you can adjust the settings directly from the options tab and adjust levels around cookies, third party sites and more. This not only protects the computer user, but also the computer from the threat of viruses.
  • Use Filtering Software
    There are software suites you can purchase to monitor your child’s Internet usage; many even enable you to view the exact keys that were typed, time spent online and all computer activity in general. Popular programs such as Net Nanny and PureSight PC let you monitor social media sites, block chats, filter content and much more. You can even monitor your child’s cell phone with a software program like My Mobile Watchdog.
  • Create Ground Rules
    If your kids are old enough to be using the computer on their own, they are old enough to understand that there are rules they need to abide by. Breaking them should not have a lesser consequence than if they broke a rule in the offline world. The best way for families to agree on ground rules is to create a contract that all parties must sign. The Family Online Safety Institute(FOSI) encourages parents and kids to have an open discussion about what these rules mean.
  • Keep the Computer in a Central Location
    It’s much easier to keep tabs on any online activity when the computer is located in a high-traffic zone than if your child is using a computer in the privacy of her own room. Place the computer in a central location like your kitchen or family room so that everything is out in the open.
  • Urge Your Kids to Avoid Questionnaires, Free Giveaways and Contests
    A pop-up ad appears and tells kids they can win a free iPad by simply clicking the link. Anyone would be tempted by this kind of offer, but kids are particularly susceptible, so it’s important to warn kids against falling for this kind of Internet trick. Many of these ruses are attempts to glean personal information. Inform kids that even if they are forwarded a fun questionnaire from a friend, it’s best to close the window and not participate.
  • Monitor the Pictures Your Child Posts Online
    In an ideal world, your child would never post a photo of herself online, but that might not be entirely realistic. If she wants to share photos with her friends via email or a social networking site, be sure you know exactly which pictures are being posted. Make sure the content of the photo is completely innocuous and that no identifiable locales in the background are noticeable.
  • Be a Good Example of How to Use Social Media
    If you are tweeting and updating your Facebook page at a stop light and taking every opportunity to “just check something,” you’re setting a poor precedent for social media usage that your child will surely follow. Always remember to ask yourself if you’re setting a good example and demonstrating proper technology etiquette as well.
  •  Limit Cell Phone Use
    Just as you would limit use of a computer, TV or gaming system, you can do the same with a cell phone. Set rules for the device, only allowing cell phone usage at certain hours in the evening or after homework has been completed. If you have teens of driving age, the most important rule to enforce is that under no circumstances should cell phones ever be used while driving. Phones should be kept off so incoming text sounds aren’t a distraction or should be kept in the glove compartment, out of reach.
  • Teach Kids about an Online Reputation
    Many kids don’t seem to understand the permanence of the online world. Make sure to stress to your kids what a digital footprint is and the impact inappropriate messages or images could have if a future college administrator or employer were to stumble upon them. As stated in the AAP study, what goes online stays online.
  • Talk to Kids about Online Dangers
    You may feel like you’re scaring your kids when talking to them about the dangers of being online, but it’s better for them to be scared than to be unaware. Having an open line of communication is crucial the minute your kids start using the Internet more independently. Parry Aftab, noted online safety and privacy expert and Executive Director of WiredSafety, says, “Who's a stranger online? Everyone is! You need to remind your children that these people are strangers and that the standard rules always apply.”
  • Get to Know the Technology
    Kids have gained a mastery of technology so quickly and can easily pick up on the nuances that any new gadget has, far more easily that we can in some cases. It is every parent’s responsibility to know exactly which key features are included in the gadgets our kids are using. 


 Social Media Usage resource links:
Click here for the full article from
Click here to Visit Net Nanny parental control.
Click here to visit PureSight PC parental control.
Click here for My Mobile Watchdog parental control.
Click here to visit the Family Online Safety Institute.
Click here for more resources on Technology Etiquette.
Click here for The Secret Life of Kids Online article.
There are times when a parent needs help quickly – when children can’t calm down, are uncontrollable or may be in sudden danger of hurting themselves or others.

A crisis situation exists any time that your child is no longer safe to himself or others or when there is a need for immediate action or intervention. It is usually a time when all of your energies are being demanded in order to care for your child.
Some signs that your child may be experiencing a mental health crisis include:
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Extreme energy or lack of it, sleeping all the time, or being unable to sleep
  • Severe agitation, pacing,
  • Talking very rapidly or non-stop
  • Confused thinking or irrational thoughts
  • Thinking everyone is out to get them or seeming to lose touch with reality
  • If they are experiencing hallucinations or delusions
  • Making threats to others or themselves
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family, not coming out of their room
  • Not eating or eating all the time, rapid weight loss or gain
  • Suicidal thoughts and statements such as “I want to die” or even possible vague statements such as “I don’t want to be here anymore”

This list above contains many but not all the possible signs that your child may be experiencing a crisis. It is best to follow your instincts. Remember you are the expert when it comes to your child. If you feel your child is behaving much differently than normal or if the situation seems like it is getting out of control and you fear you may not be able to de-escalate it – then your child is most likely experiencing a crisis.

Once you decide that indeed your child may be having a crisis or mental health emergency you’ll want to consider the following questions:
  1. Do you feel your child is in immediate danger to themselves or others?
  2. Can you handle the situation yourself or do you need help?
  3. If you need help- what type of help do you need and from who?
If the answer to question 1 is yes, and your child’s life is at risk or someone else’s life is in danger you need to get help right away! If you feel your child or family is in imminent danger call 911 but keep in mind that once police enter your home they are in charge of the situation and control what happens next including where your child may be taken.
CRISIS Contact Information*
  • 9-1-1
  • BHPD: 310-550-4951
  • Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (Emergency Room):  (310) 825-9111
    • 757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095
    • For emergency mental health evaluation
  • For a mental health evaluation service at home call the Psychiatric Mobile Response Team: 800-854-7771
Other emergency resources including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) can be found on the ACMH Get Help Now Page.
*For additional resources, please visit our Resources Page for the BHUSD Resource Guide

When you call 911 or crisis services be sure to let them know that your child is having a mental health emergency as that may trigger them to send someone who is trained in supporting children and youth experiencing a mental health crisis. You may also want to ask if they have a children’s crisis team as they will be trained to intervene in similar situations.

Try to give the person you talk to as many details as you can about what specifically is happening and any other background information you feel may be important.
  • What if I am worried that my child is suicidal but I am not sure?
    It is really important that you follow your instincts in these situations. If you have a feeling that your child may be considering taking his or her own life, you need to pay attention.
    If you are worried - ASK!

Many parents are fearful that if they ask their child if they are considering killing themselves that it will put the idea in their head or that talking about it may cause them to attempt to take their life, but research actually shows that talking about suicide reduces the risk.

We understand that having this conversation with your child is not an easy thing to do. In fact it can be terrifying and overwhelming so we have listed some steps and tips below to help you start the conversation.
  1. Tell your child what you have observed that is worrying you.
    • For example:
      Mitchel I’ve noticed that you have been sleeping a lot, staying in your room and are not interested in going out with your friends anymore or hanging out with us. I also saw that you wrote I don’t want to be on this planet anymore all over your notebook.
      Julie I think I heard you say you “you wanted to die”.\
  2. Let them know you love them and want to help.
  3. Ask them as calmly and directly as possible if they have considered killing themselves or taking their own life. 
    • For example say:
      Have you thought about killing yourself?
      If they say anything except a strong no, then ask:
      Have you thought about how you might do this? or Do you have a plan?**
      **Having a plan may mean they are at a higher risk level / not having a plan does not mean there is no risk.
Do not leave them alone if you feel they are at immediate risk. If you feel they are immediate danger – call your therapist, local CMH crisis center or go to your local emergency room for help. If you do not feel you can safely transport your child and it is an emergency situation you may need to call 911. 
If you are unsure what to do it can be helpful to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They have trained people that can help you and your child 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
If your child convinces you that they are not at immediate risk and you do not feel they are at immediate risk, still be sure to get in contact with a therapist for an evaluation or advice about what to do next. In addition be sure to share information with your child about suicide hotline numbers and other resources and be sure to let them know they can come to you at any time. 
Other things you can say or do that may be helpful:
  • Let them know that they are not alone and that you are there for them no matter what!
  • Reassure them that lots of young people have suicidal thoughts but do not act on them.  Sometimes just knowing that other children and teens sometimes have those thoughts can make them feel better.
  • Try not to discount their feelings or convince them they shouldn’t feel this way - it can feel dismissive or non-supportive.
  • Let them know that you want to help them and that you will help them get connected to the help they need.
  • Although this may be one of the hardest things you ever have to ask your child - asking your child directly if they have thought of suicide and talking about suicide lets your child know it is ok to come to you no matter how badly or hopeless they feel. You can be a protective factor that helps to lower your child’s risk. Sometimes just having the opportunity to talk about how badly they feel can be a great relief to young people.
  • If you feel your child is not in immediate danger of hurting themselves or others, but still needs help right away. You then have to decide if you can handle the situation yourself or if you need help to figure out what to do next.

Additional Resources:

SAMHSA’s Helping Your Loved One Who Is Suicidal – A Guide for Family and Friends
  • If you feel you need help during any crisis with your child, contact: Your child’s therapist or treatment team if they have one - they may be especially helpful as they know your child and their history.
  • When you call ask if they think your child, based on the current situation may need to be assessed, need emergency services or perhaps to be hospitalized? They may have you bring your child in to be assessed or they may send you to the local crisis services, hospital or other location directly.
  • Click here to read the full guide. 
If your child does not have a therapist or if they are not available you can:
  • Call your local Community Mental Health Crisis Center- click here for contact numbers and select your county.
  • Transport your child directly to the crisis center or emergency room if you feel you can do it safely. If possible, call ahead to let them know you are coming so they can be ready for your child when you get there.
  • Depending on the situation or who you call for help you may:
    Have to wait for a call-back; Be advised to monitor the situation until your therapist can see your child; Be asked to take your child in somewhere to be assessed; or Be advised to take your child to emergency or crisis services or a local emergency room.
  • If you need to take your child in somewhere:
    Decide if can you safely transport your child. If not, do you have a support person that could help you? If you feel you cannot safely transport your child and do not have anyone to help you let the place you are taking them know that and ask what they recommend you do.
  • If you have to wait for someone to call you back or if you have been advised to monitor the situation until your child can be seen by your regular therapist; keep in mind that things may change quickly. If the situation or your child’s behavior escalates while you are waiting you may need to take other actions. If at any time you feel the situation has reached a level that that you need additional help right now in order to keep your child safe call for help! 
Steps to try to calm/control the situation while you wait for help:
  • If your child has a safety plan, follow any planned strategies you have in place.
  • If you do not yet have a safety plan, try any strategies you feel may be effective in this particular situation.
You may also want to consider some of the following tips to help de-escalate the situation:
  • Try to stay calm
    • Speak slowly and confidently with a gentle, caring tone of voice
    • Do not argue or challenge your child even if what they are saying seems unreasonable or outrageous to you
  • Do not threaten
  • Do not raise your voice or talk too fast
  • Use positive words instead of negative words
  • Stay with your child but try not to restrict their movement
  • Listen actively and try to give positive support and reassurance
  • Realize you may have trouble communicating with your child
  • Ask simple questions and repeat them if necessary
    • Say, “I’m here. I care. I want to help. How can I help you?"
    • Empathize with how your child is feeling.
  • Try not to take your child’s actions or comments personally
  • The increased intensity of the situation can sometimes make it more difficult for us to hide our own fears or opinions so do your best to stay calm.
  • Don’t handle the crisis alone if you have people who can support you such as family, friends, neighbors, people from your place of worship, or people from a local support group
  • Don’t threaten to call 911 unless you intend to. When you call 911, police and/or an ambulance are likely to come to your house. This may make your loved one more upset, so use 911 only when you or someone else is in immediate danger
Keep in Mind That:
  • Your child may be frightened by the feelings they are experiencing.
  • Symptoms such as suspiciousness or distorted thinking can cause youth to be fearful and not trust other people even you
  • It can sometimes be helpful to take a break from the conversation for a while when you are waiting to get help.
Planning Ahead for Safety
  • For some children it is not a question of ‘if’, but rather a question of ‘when’ a crisis will occur and in those cases some advance planning can make a big difference in getting the care and intervention needed for your child and for your family.
  • If you have a safety plan in place it should list steps and strategies to help you. If you can plan what you will do, who will contact and where you might go for help during a crisis it can be incredibly helpful.
  • If you do not yet have a safety plan, ask your child’s therapist or treatment team to help you to create one. If your child is placed in an emergency treatment placement or hospitalized ask the staff work with you to create one before your child is discharged. Sample Safety plan (BHUSD)
    It is important to think about your child’s safety and also the safety of other members of the household. If your child is a risk to him or herself or their siblings, they may need to be hospitalized.
  • A child who is struggling with may not use good judgment, self-control or even be aware of the consequences of his or her actions. They may be fueled by emotions and may not be able to think logically. For some children and youth the ‘fight or flight’ instinct often takes over during a crisis and their actions may be sudden, reckless and even dangerous.
Additional Preventative Safety Steps:
  • Some children and youth are at high risk and experience crisis situations on a regular basis.
  • Some steps that other parents have taken to safeguard their child and family in case of a crisis include:
    • Locking up guns, knives and other sharp objects.
    • Using the child safety locks on car doors to keep a child from jumping out of a moving vehicle
    • Removing furniture and heavy objects from the child’s room that might be thrown during a rage
    • Locking up all medications and other substances to keep out of reach
    • Putting a lock on the refrigerator if a child has uncontrolled eating binges
    • Having a plan and a safe place for other children to go when a crisis occurs
    • If your child often tries to run or flee you may want to consider getting training on safe ways to restrain a child.
    • Your child’s psychiatrist or therapist can offer input or refer you to local resources for training.
What Causes a Mental Health Crisis?
  • There are some events/situations that could trigger a mental health crisis in any child or youth including a breakup, death of a loved one, natural or large scale disaster, physical, sexual or verbal abuse, loss of home, failing grades in school, ill family member or caregiver, divorce, loss of a friend, loved one or hero to suicide, or being a witness to a violent act/accident, physical assault or violence.
  • It is important to keep in mind that children and youth with mental health disorders sometimes have more difficulty than others dealing with stressors and that their mental health condition itself may lead to a crisis situation for no apparent reason. In addition changes in medication or other factors may make a mental health crisis more likely.
  • Sometimes even when we have all the right supports services and treatment in place mental health crises can still occur.
Special Situations: Police Intervention
  • Depending on the age, size and strength of your child, as well as the details of the crisis, it may be necessary to call for police assistance in either restraining your child, transporting your child to the hospital, or tracking down a run away.

Final Thoughts:
  • It is important to keep in mind that even if you do everything right and follow all the steps you know how to do to the best of your ability – situations can still get out of hand and may be more than you can handle. It doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong just that you may need some additional help to help your child.
  • Crisis situations can be stressful, frightening and exhausting for you, your child and other family members too. It is important to make sure you are taking care of yourself and getting the support you all need as well!
  • Asking for help and knowing where to get it and how is sometimes the hardest part. If you still need help, have additional questions or need additional information feel free to consult with your BVMS grade level counselor or you can click here to submit a referral for your student to receive ongoing counseling support with the help of Maple Center thru BullogAid.
Source: From ACMH,