Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care

The Children's Bureau, within the Administration for Children and Families and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has published a new guide on managing psychotropic medications written specifically for youth in foster care: Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care. Download the guide here (PDF, 28 pages).   The guide was developed for the youth audience and can serve as a valuable discussion tool for child welfare professionals, foster parents, clinicians, health care providers, mentors, and others working with youth. The guide provides ways in which youth can manage powerful feelings and behaviors and make healthy, informed choices.  It can help youth understand how psychotropic medication can help, as well as learn about other options that are available.

Recently, one physician was discussing the guide with a young man.  The young man said, “that he wished that he had had the information when people were talking about putting him on meds.  He said that he didn't know that it was okay to ask all these questions.”  From a physician’s point of view, “I think looking at the guide with a teen is a wonderful way to encourage those questions and have the discussion about whether or not medication is right for them."

Making Healthy Choices includes useful information, questions to ask, worksheets, and tips that can help youth participate in their care:

  • Recognizing when help is needed
  • Knowing rights about health care and who can help in making decisions
  • Learning about diagnosis and treatment
  • Considering options, including helpful approaches other than medication
  • Taking medication safely
  • Making informed decisions about staying healthy
  • Continuing or stopping treatment after leaving foster care

This publication culminated from a collaborative effort that included input from young people and professionals and from the following organizations:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Maine Department of Human Services, Maine Youth Leadership Advisory Team, National Resource Center for Youth Development, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Tufts Medical Center, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Youth MOVE Maine.

Making Healthy Choices was field tested by youth and medical and mental health professional.  This guide is available now and will be housed on the National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) website. Download the guide here.

A Spanish version of the guide will soon be released.  Flyers are available to share with youth and professionals working with youth:

http://www.nrcyd.ou.edu/images/stories/stories/med-guide/youth-guide-psych-med-professionals-flier.pdf
http://www.nrcyd.ou.edu/images/stories/stories/med-guide/youth-guide-psych-med-youth-flier.pdf