7 Mental Health Resources for Kids and Teens
With the difficulties of the last few years, more children and teens are experiencing anxiety and depression. In Rhode Island, one in four children ages three to 17 has a mental, emotional, or behavioral health problem.1
Whether you’re trying to prevent mental health issues or cope with issues your child is already experiencing, it’s important to know the help that’s available through programs in schools and in the community as well as through your BCBSRI health plan.
Prevention programs in the schools
For decades, schools have offered valuable resources for families, including nurses and social workers. Your child’s school may also offer programs designed to help them improve their health and their academics. Here are two programs available in Rhode Island schools that BCBSRI helps support:
Project SUCCESS, for middle and high school students
Through Project SUCCESS, 50,000 Rhode Island students have access to a specially trained student assistance counselor right at school. The counselor provides education to help students take care of their mental health and prevent substance use. And if a student is at risk, the counselor offers services right at school and will also refer them to outside resources if needed. Students at Rhode Island schools offering Project SUCCESS were found to have fewer symptoms of depression, lower rates of suicidal thoughts, and lower vaping, smoking, cigarette, and alcohol use compared to schools without the program.2
Recess Rocks in Rhode Island, for elementary school students
Play is essential for our kids. More than 40,000 elementary school students benefit from Recess Rocks in Rhode Island, which helps ensure recess is a safe, inclusive, and healthy experience. This partnership between BCBSRI, Playworks New England, and the Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition provides a free training program for schools and resource staff, sharing activities that help kids stay active and social. Ninety-six percent of educators report that Playworks helps students connect with peers and strengthen overall wellbeing. You can even help your child be active at home by using the Playworks’ Game Library.
A mental wellness texting service for parents of kids 0-8
The Greatest 8 helps parents teach their children, ages 0 to 8, the skills for a lifetime of mental wellness. Parents across the country can use the Greatest 8, which started in Rhode Island. It’s the first service in the United States designed to promote emotional and behavioral health through text messaging. Parents receive weekly age-appropriate texts based on their child’s month and year of birth. These texts provide tips and activities related to communication, understanding feelings, diversity awareness and respect, coping and resilience, and conflict resolution.
With BCBSRI’s support, the Greatest 8 is now also available in Spanish and other languages. If you’d like to sign up, simply text greatest8 to (401) 297-3020 or sign up online.
Your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns
All kids get stressed and have bad days. But if your child has lost interest in activities they used to enjoy, if they’re often talking about fears or worries, if they’re spending more time alone, those are things to pay attention to. Sometimes you’ll also see physical changes, such as sleeping more or unexplained stomachaches.
As a BCBSRI member, your child (or you) generally doesn’t need a referral to see a therapist or a psychiatrist. But your pediatrician can help create a plan to help or refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist. However, it can sometimes be a challenge to get an appointment quickly with a mental health professional. That’s why BCBSRI supports a program where pediatricians can consult with psychiatrists about a patient’s care. We’re also working with pediatricians’ offices to help them transition into having a therapist as part of their practice.
BCBSRI Care Management for help finding the right provider
If you need help finding a provider for your child (or yourself), we’re here for you. You can use our Find a Doctor tool, or you can talk with our licensed clinicians by calling 1-800-274-2958. They can assist you with identifying a provider for your specific needs.
Many providers in the BCBSRI network offer a telehealth option, and we also have a service called BCBSRI Doctors Online that’s available with many plans. Learn more at drs-online.com or by calling 1-800-345-1419. Not all parents can take time off work for appointments, so we understand that video visits can be a more flexible option.
There are also specialized programs for children and teens offered through Bradley Hospital. You can find information on these options at bcbsri.com/mentalhealth.
Urgent care appointments if your child needs to be seen right away
If your child is in urgent need of care, call BCBSRI to see if we have appointments available. We’re making more urgent care psychiatrist and therapist appointments available so kids can get help sooner, so please contact us to see how we can help. Call 1-800-274-2958 or the number on the back of your BCBSRI member ID card.
988 in an emergency
If your child is experiencing a behavioral health emergency and needs help immediately, please call 988, which is the new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. In our state, there is also a 24/7 phone line (1-855-543-5465) called Kids' Link RI, which can help connect you with care.
More help for parents
You can find more information and resources in our new “how-to” guide: Finding Help for Kids and Teens: A Parent's Guide to Mental Healthcare in RI.
If your child has a mental health condition, that affects the whole family. Be sure to also take care of yourself. Our mental health page explains the benefits available through your plan. We’re also here to help at 1-800-274-2958.
1Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health. (2021). 2020-2021 National Survey of Children’s Health: Mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral problem, age 3-17 years. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from childhealthdata.org.
2Results are from the Rhode Island Student Survey 2020-2021 administration. Depressive symptoms were measured by the Modified Depression Score, a continuous score ranging from 0 to 24. Percent difference was calculated by adjusted logistic and linear regressions controlling for age, sexual and gender identity, pre-post COVID lockdown, %White, %Free/reduced lunch, urban classification, and school level. All results are significant p<0.05. Analyses conducted by SR Rosenthal, 1/1/2023.