Pharmacological Treatments for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Disorders

Pharmacological treatments for mental health disorders have been heavily researched and can be an important aspect of treatment. However, there are several concerns when it comes to using these medications with children and adolescents. First, many medications have not been studied in children and it is not clear how the medications may affect their growth and development. Second, many drugs have not been approved for use in children by the FDA, but can still be prescribed for “off label” use. Finally, concerns have been raised regarding the number of children and adolescents in the child welfare system who are taking psychotropic drugs, as well as the use of multiple drugs simultaneously. In situations where a decision is made to prescribe psychotropic medications to a child or youth in foster care, then child welfare agencies should be aware of policy and practice guidelines to ensure the child or youth is receiving necessary support.

The following resources provide child welfare agencies with important guidelines and recommendations on the use of psychotropic medications in foster care in order to promote safety and efficacy:

The following publications provide an overview of pharmacological treatments for children and adolescents with mental health disorders: