2000 Jordan Institute
Vol. 4, No. 2
Referrals to Mental Health
constitutes a "viable" referral to a mental health agency? Because
things work in slightly different ways in North Carolina's 40 area mental
health programs, there is no one answer to this questiondepending
on the mental health (MH) center, you'll get a different response about
what DSS workers need to know. The best solution to this might be, as
Jay Taylor suggests, to invite representatives of your local MH agency
to conduct an inservice training on this subject at DSS.
a tailor-made workshop is the ideal, there are certain things you can
do to increase the chances that the referrals you make will work for you,
your counterparts at mental health, and the families you serve. The following
suggestions emerged from interviews Practice Notes conducted with
several practitioners from area mental health programs.
mental health about the reason for the referral. Without this,
mental health workers must ask parents and children why they have
come to the clinic. If the person doesn't know (or claims not to know)
beyond "I'm here because DSS sent me," MH will be hampered
during the intake screening. For example, if the referral is for sexual
abuse but the client denies sexual abuse, MH often will move on in
the evaluation rather than "fishing" for an answer. A phone
call or a letter could provide this information.
using a client-information release form. If there were a form
clients could sign allowing DSS to release information to other agencies,
DSS would be free to list the presenting problem as part of the referral,
including a court order, if applicable. For example, the referral
could state that the client needs to be evaluated for substance abuse,
providing detailed information. Ample detail in the referral gives
MH a better idea where to begin in treatment.
appropriate client contact information. If a work number is obtained,
note what times are suitable to call the workplace. If a client does
not have a phone, list an alternate phone number of a friend, etc.
other agencies and professionals involved in the case.
state your agency's expectations for the referral outcome, as
well as what your continuing role would be in the case.
communications with: Ursula Nerdrum, MSW, Adult Therapist, Franklin County
Mental Health Center; Joyce Smith, B.S. Clinical Case Manager, Child and
Family Services, Warren County Mental Health Center; Anita Toney, RNC,
LPC, Director, Warren County Mental Health Center
1999 Jordan Institute for Families