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Accessing Supports for Individuals with a Mental Illness

By Hillary D. Freeman, Esq.

Children with emotional disturbances and related behavioral disorders are often overlooked for appropriate special education and related services. Instead, they are being categorized as "behavioral problems" in their classrooms.

Average students who have behavioral issues and/or a mental illness may still be eligible for special education and related services even if he or she is passing classes. To be eligible for special education and related services, the student's disability must adversely impact their educational performance and he or she must require specially designed instruction to benefit from the educational program. For example, it is not uncommon for children to exhibit behaviors that lead to being suspended or expelled from school. It goes without saying that if a student's disability leads him or her to miss classes, educational performance will likely be affected.

Likewise, if the student's behaviors or emotional state is not improving with regular education services, he or she may be eligible for individualized services through a Section 504 Accommodation Plan or IEP. These services may include but not be limited to accommodations such as extended time on exams or extra time to complete work, frequent breaks, as well as related services that include but are not limited to individual counseling, therapeutic day programming and in some cases, residential treatment.

In addition to accessing services in school, services may be available through an agency known as Value Options. This agency coordinates services offered by the Division of Child Behavior Health Services (DCBHS). It provides one point of contact for all publicly funded services that include a comprehensive range of behavioral, emotional, and mental health treatments for New Jersey’s children and their families from emergency/crisis management to less intensive treatment plans.

When reviewing the needs of a child with a mental illness, keep in mind that parental rights are affected as the child gets older. If you are concerned that your child will not act in his or her own best interests, consider filing an application for Guardianship or seek similar alternatives to Guardianship that will help protect your child in his or her own time of need.

Click here to read about "How to Protect your Child from Inappropriate Punishment".


Contact Freeman Law Offices, LLC today by calling (609) 454-5609 or by using the "Contact Us" form on our website to learn whether additional services are available to help your loved one.

Freeman Law Offices, LLC - New Jersey & Pennsylvania Special Needs Attorney
Freeman Law Offices, LLC - New Jersey Special Needs Attorney
Located at 103 Carnegie Center, Suite 101 Princeton, NJ 08540. View Map
Phone: (609) 454-6661 | Local Phone: (609) 454-5609.
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