Newsroom > DHHS News Release


May 12, 2008

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287 or


DHHS is Focusing on Children’s Behavioral Health

Note: Sound bites on this topic are available at:


Lincoln – Approximately 90,000 Nebraska youth have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct or eating disorders, or anxiety.

"It’s easy to know when your child has a fever, but a child’s mental health problem may be harder for parents to identify," said Scot Adams, Ph.D., director of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). "Sudden changes in a child’s behavior might be an indicator of a problem."

For example, pay attention to excessive anger, fear, sadness or anxiety, or behaviors like exercising too much or hurting or destroying things. Without help, behavioral health problems can lead to school failure, alcohol or other drug abuse, family discord, violence or even suicide.

Integrating children’s behavioral health into the Division is one of Governor Heineman’s priorities for DHHS. A new position has been created in the Division that is focused full time on children’s behavioral health.

In addition, LB 542 (2007) directed the Division to submit a Children’s Behavioral Health Plan in January 2008. This plan creates a fundamental shift in how children are served, emphasizing in-home and community services for youth with behavioral health needs.

"Making people aware of the issues can help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and encourage children and their families to get the care they need," Adams said. "Serious emotional, mental health and substance abuse disorders in children and adolescents are real, and treatable. Talk to your health care provider if you have concerns about your child's behavior."

More information about children’s behavioral health is available by going to