While NAMI Santa Clara County (NAMI-SCC) does not offer direct services (support groups, education classes, peer support, etc.) to children and adolescents under age 18, the NAMI Helpline is often contacted by parents and caregivers of children and adolescents in this age group.  Also, NAMI recognizes that Transition Aged Youth (TAY) between the ages of 16 – 26 often have issues and needs that differ from those of older adults.  This document addresses mental health concerns and resources for children, adolescents and TAY.


Children and Adolescents – people under the age of 18 years.  Mental health treatment laws and services for this group are very different from those for adults.  Involuntary treatment laws also apply to children and adolescents, but parents and legal guardian may admit their child or adolescent to a locked psychiatric facility (technically, this is a “voluntary admission”).
TAY (Transition Aged Youth) – adolescents and young adults, usually between the ages of 16 and 23-26 years.  This group, which is “transitioning” to adulthood, has unique mental health issues and needs, and mental health services are often targeted to them specifically.

NAMI Services for Children, Adolescents and TAY

While NAMI-SCC does not offer direct services (support groups, education classes, peer support, etc.) to children and adolescents under age 18, it does offer the NAMI Basics Class to parents and caregivers of this age group. Note:  In some cases, parents of young adults between 18 and 23 may attend Family Basics (if their child/adolescent has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and has not graduated high school). NAMI-SCC also has support groups for Families/Caregivers of the TAY group, and a school mental health outreach program for middle and high schools (Ending the Silence). Families and Caregivers of children, adolescents and TAY are welcome to contact the NAMI Helpline Help Desk for support and assistance with resources.


Families who feel their child (of any age) is at immediate risk of harming themselves or someone else should call 911 and ask the dispatcher to send a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer.

  • 9-8-8 – Crisis Support Services: 24-hour intervention to children and teens who are in acute psychological crisis.
  • Provides stabilization and support services for children, youth, and young adults (through age 20) experiencing mental health crisis in Santa Clara County. Therapeutic teams will consult, assess for safety, and intervene through crisis counseling with the goal of community stabilization. Post Crisis Stabilization services will be provided to ensure linkage, referral, and care coordination to existing providers and/or refer for ongoing services

  • Bill Wilson Center’s Contact Cares Helpline: 408-850-6125  Confidential helpline for depression, anxiety, grief, loneliness, parental stress
  • Bill Wilson Center Transition Age Youth Hotline: 408-850-6140  Hotline for youth ages 16-25 who may be experiencing a mental health crisis
  • Santa Clara County Child Abuse Hotline (24/7): 1-833-722-5437, San Jose: 408-299-2071, Palo Alto: 650-493-1186, Gilroy/Morgan Hill Area: 408-683-0601
  • Community Solutions 24-Hour Crisis Line: 877-363-7238  24-hour hotline for sexual assault, intimate partner violence, human trafficking
    Community Solutions serves Gilroy, Morgan Hill and surrounding areas.

  • Families with Medi-Cal or no insurance:
    Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services Call Center: 1-800-704-0900
    For assistance during a mental health crisis, help accessing County mental health services, and referrals to local community resources.
  • Families with private insurance:
    Contact private psychiatric facilities and hospitals that offer inpatient and outpatient services for this age group (i.e., El Camino, Stanford, and San Jose hospitals). Contact your insurance company to ask for their provider list, and look for child psychiatrists, therapists or clinics covered by your plan.

The Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) provides an array of services to children, youth, young adults, and their family where appropriate to meet their needs. Programs and services may be clinic, community and/or home-based and are provided through county and contracted service providers in all regions of Santa Clara County. Referrals for all services are through the Behavioral Health Call Center, 1-800-704-0900.

    • LGBTQ Youth Space: Drop-In Center: 408-343-7940 Provides confidential counseling, has activities and other resources for LGBTQ youth in Santa Clara County.

In addition to seeing a psychiatrist, receiving therapy can help your child develop skills and habits to be successful at school and in life. However, the search for a therapist can be daunting. Here are some resources to guide you on this search.

Evidence-based Therapies: Click on this link to learn about evidence-based therapies. Studies have shown that some therapies work better for certain mental health conditions than others. This website lists an outline of therapies that have been scientifically proven to help various behavioral and mental health conditions.

Tips on finding the right therapist: Click on this link for advice and a list of questions to ask when you are interviewing a potential therapist for your child. This is taken from the book Rescuing Your Teenager from Depression” by Norman T, Berlinger, M.D., Ph.D.

Mental Health & Autism Insurance Project: Mental Health & Autism Insurance Project is a non – profit organization which assists families of children are living with autism spectrum disorders and/or mental health conditions, to obtain medically necessary treatments (including residential or outdoor therapy treatments) through their health plans. Their website has a wealth of information for families. They assist with obtaining single case agreements, writing appeals and requesting regulatory intervention and through seminars to the public on laws related to mental health and autism care. They are open Mon-Fri 9 AM – 5 PM. Ph. (925) 388-0892

For more information, tips and suggestions on finding the right mental health care provider, see “Finding Treatment” page on www.namisanataclara.org

When mental health issues interfere with the student’s ability to attend or learn at school, they may qualify for special education services or accommodations from the school. Two general types of special education services are available:

  1. 504 plans: The accommodations under 504 plan are limited but may be suitable for children who may only need few modifications. Modifications may include taking the test in a separate setting, extended time to complete assignments and tests, frequent breaks etc.Here is a list of 504 accomodations you can request from your school (www.wrightslaw). To learn about 504 plan, click here.
  2. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): IEP sets learning goals and provides services which may include therapeutic support in the classroom, academic support, modifications to class curriculum, transition planning. IEP is especially useful for students whose mental illness causes behavioral issues, school avoidance or other conditions that impair their ability to attend school and/or their academic abilities. Learn more about special education here.

In addition, most school districts employ mental health professionals to provide “School-Based Services” to all students, including counseling, evaluation, and therapy in school offices or therapeutic classrooms.

Difference between 504 plans and IEP -This table lists the difference between 504 plans and IEP.

Special Education Roadmap – See this flowchart from Understood.org for a visual overview of the IEP process.

Private School Assessment Flowchart – This flowchart by SELPA Santa Clara County office of education shows how to get your child assessed for special education if your child is attending a private school.

Dealing with School Suspensions: Click on this link to learn what to do if your child in special education is facing suspension or expulsion due to behavioral problems.

  • Parents Helping Parents – Phone: (408) 727-5575 Toll Free: (885) 727-5575 Sobrato Center for Nonprofits-San Jose, 1400 Parkmoor Avenue Suite 100, San Jose, CA 95126.
  • Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE) – Phone: (415) 431-2285 Provides legal support, representation, technical consultations and training to parents concerning special education services.
  • Wrightslaw – This website is a good resource for accurate, reliable information on special education law and advocacy for children with disabilities.
  • Center for Parent Information & Resouces (CPIR)– This website, previously called Parent Hub, provides webinars, parent guides, explanations of early intervention and special education.
  • Back to School Toolkit to support the full inclusion of student with early psychosis in higher education.
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education SELPA: This office coordinates with Santa Clara school districts and the County Office of Education to provide a continuum of programs and services for disabled individuals from birth through 22 years of age.
  • Resources for Families by SELPA, includes information of interest to parents and caregivers. For school district staff, there is a SELPA Procedural Handbook.  See Chapter 8, Appendix A for procedures specific to “related mental health services guidelines”.

In addition to dealing with behavioral and mental health issues, teens and adolescents are also facing a transition into adulthood. Once they turn 18, parents will no longer have legal rights to help them coordinate heath care, education, housing, employment and manage other adult responsibilities. Here are some resources to guide your teen during these transition years.

  • Educate yourself about DOR Student Services offered by the Department of Rehabilitation for students with 504 or IEP.
  • Transition planning should be part of IEP. Ask about WorkAbility I (WAI) offered through your school district, offering students with an IEP the opportunity to obtain marketable job skills.
  • While it is not mandatory to inform your college about your disability, identifying yourself as having a disability will enable you to continue to receive services through a 504 plan. A 504 plan will transfer to college, but IEP does not. However, a student with an IEP will qualify for 504 in college. Under section 504, your college is required to provide you with necessary academic adjustments so that you are not discriminated against on the basis of your disability. Some of the academic adjustments may include auxiliary aids, academic adjustments, and services such as priority registration, reduced course load, substitution of one course for another, and provision for note takers, recording devices, extended time for testing and other adaptive software or hardware. Learn more here.
  • Community colleges may have a summer program to help students with disabilities get familiar with the campus before the Fall of their freshman year. Contact the college’s Disability Service department to find out about resources available for students with disabilities.
  • TAY Resources in Santa Clara County: List of online mental health resources available for transition age youth.
  • A Transition Guide : Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, US Department of Education, has published this Transition guide for students and youth with disabilities to plan for post secondary education and employment.
  • Navigating College : See this video from www.nami.org to learn how students can navigate college while managing their mental health conditions.

TAY refers to adolescents and young adults, usually between the ages of 16 – 26 years.  This group, which is “transitioning” to adulthood, has unique issues and needs, and often mental health services are target to them specifically:
If are in their late teens, they and their loved ones need to understand and plan for the fact that the laws governing their involuntary treatment will change at age 18, giving them the right to refuse treatment if they do not meet legal mental health involuntary treatment criteria. Young adults with serious and persistent mental health needs can have difficulty finding services to assist them in the transition to adulthood. Because available mental health, employment, and housing services are not always suited to young adults with mental illness, these individuals may not opt to receive these services. They can also find it difficult to qualify for adult programs that provide and/or pay for mental health services, interrupting the continuum of care they require. Finally, navigating the numerous and unique programs that address the diverse needs of these youth can be particularly challenging for them and their families.

Early intervention in psychosis is a clinical approach to those experiencing symptoms of psychosis for the first time. It forms part of a new prevention paradigm for psychiatry and is leading to reform of mental health services.  This approach centers on the early detection and treatment of symptoms during the formative years of a psychotic condition (typically, from age 14 to 35). The first three to five years (up to and after an initial psychotic episode) are believed by some to be a critical treatment period.  The duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) has been shown to be an indicator of prognosis, with a longer DUP associated with more long-term disability.  Early intervention programs feature multidisciplinary clinical teams providing an intensive case management approach during these critical years. The goal is to reduce the usual delays in treatment for those in their first episode of psychosis. The provision of optimal treatments in these early years is thought to prevent relapses and reduce the long-term impact of the condition. Early intervention is considered a prevention strategy.

NAMI offers a Transition Aged Youth (TAY) Family Support Group, a mutual support group for family members caring for loved ones living with mental health conditions up to age 26. This support group is for family members over the age of 18 years only. The group meets online the first Wednesday of the month from 7- 8:30 pm. Register at least two hours prior to the meeting at https://bit.ly/tay-rsvp

  • ASPIRE Program:                                       Phone: 650-988-8468
    After-school treatment programs at El Camino Hospital for teenage youths with significant anxiety, depression, or other mental health symptoms. The group-based acute program’s primary goal is to help adolescents achieve emotional wellness, using treatments such as DBT and expressive arts. The program includes individual therapy, group sessions and activities, as well as family involvement. Accepts Medi-Cal, Medicare with approval, and private insurance (such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield).
  • BACA (Bay Area Clinical Associates)    Phone: 844-560-5616
    Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for ages 12-26 and outpatient clinic for children and teens up to age 26. Most insurance accepted.
  • EVOLVE Treatment Centers:                     Phone: 866-204-9519
    Mental Heath and Rehab Centers for teens ages 12-17 in San Jose. and Walnut Creek. They offer a full continuum of care for teens who struggle with mental illness, addiction and/or behavioral issues. They offer Residential Treatment, Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for teens. Call for a free consultation.
  • Reach Program:                                          Phone:1-855-273-2248
    Early Intervention program for youth ages 10-25 years aimed at providing culturally competent and evidence-based treatment. Treatment team includes psychiatrist, mental health clinicians, occupational therapist, vocational specialist and mentors. They also provide support to families through family groups, psycho-education and community outreach.
  • Parent Solutions:                                        Phone:408-292-4357
    Offer collaborative behavioral health services for children, teens, adults, families and seniors in Spanish and English in San Jose and Gilroy They take insurance including Valley Health Plan and offer sliding scale.
  • Teen Therapy Center of Silicon Valley:    Phone: 408-389-3538
    Private mental health clinic specializing in teenagers. Provide individual, group, family, parent support and in-home teen & family coaching counseling.  Approach uses CBT and Family Systems Therapy. Private pay and out-of-network insurance (billed to clients who submit to insurance).
  • Eating Disorder Resource Center (EDRC): Phone: 408-356-1212
    Provides help through support groups, education about eating disorders. Their website has list of local treatment providers and useful information for those struggling with eating disorders.

  • Now Matters Now – A great website to learn skills and find support for coping with suicidal thoughts. It has videos to teach mindfulness and DBT skills that have been proven to help people considering suicide.
  • Crisis Text Line* – [text RENEW to 741741] Free 24/7 emotional and crisis support for teens (or people of any age). Text 741741 anywhere in the US to talk to a trained Crisis Counselor.
  • LGBTQ Youth Space: A Program of Family & Children Services, with a community drop-in center and mental health program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and ally youth and young adults ages 13-25 who live in Santa Clara County. This website also has a page of other LGBTQ resources.

K’Bro: K’Bro is a free emotional resiliency app. It uses gaming, social networking and AI with CBT techniques to help teens and young adults develope resiliency.

It is available in iTunes and Google Play.


Mindful PowersTM: This is an app designed for kids using play to teach mindfulness. It is a kid-friendly app focused on helping children build healthier ways to manage stress and anxiety.



7 cups is a website and also available as an App. It provides free 24/7 emotional support from listeners trained in active listening through anonymous and confidential chat. Available in iTunes and Google Play