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Mental Health & Child Development

At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, our Division of Mental Health & Child Development is the result of the joint effort of multiple disciplines, drawing together the resources and expertise of multiple hospital programs. We're dedicated to helping children and youth who are struggling with emotional and mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, or behavioral problems by creating a safe and comfortable environment that puts entire families at ease. Because we know that behavioral challenges impact the whole family, we work in collaboration with your health provider and other community resources.

Why Families Choose Us

Ongoing Support from Birth through Adolescence

  • Clinicians with specialized training in the Mental Health and Child Development Department provide a wide range of services that include infant education, neonatal follow-up options, and childhood and adolescent development.
  • Mental Health and Child Development oversees five distinct programs:
    • Child Development Centers
    • Early Intervention Services (EIS)
    • Neonatal Follow-Up
    • Psychological Services
    • Psychiatry
  • We work intensively with every child in the environment that suits them best, providing:
    • Individual play therapy
    • Family therapy
    • Group therapy
    • Psychological testing
    • Developmental and medication evaluations
    • School and community intervention

Mental Health Clinical Guidelines for Primary Care Providers

Barriers to accessing specialized mental health services have led primary care to become the de facto mental health clinic with opportunities to provide early prevention and treatment. Now pediatric primary care providers are on the front lines for preventing, screening, assessing, treating, and monitoring pediatric mental health concerns.

ADHD Clinical Guidelines for Primary Care Providers (pdf)
The ADHD Clinical Guidelines booklet gives care recommendations for children and youth with suspected/diagnosed ADHD aged 4 to 18 years including screening tools, core symptoms, assessment, treatment protocols, and referral criteria.


Pediatric Depression Clinical Guidelines for Primary Care Providers (pdf)

Major depressive disorder (MDD) in youth is under-identified and undertreated in primary care (PC) settings. The Depression Clinical Guidelines booklet gives recommendations for diagnosis, assessment, and treatment protocols as well as referral criteria for children and adolescents suffering from depression.

Additional Services

Early Intervention, Long-Term Commitment

  • In the early stages of your child’s life, we offer intensive, family-focused early intervention for developmentally-disabled infants and toddlers. Because we believe parents are a major child developmental influence, our Early Intervention Services program focuses on helping parents build healthy and positive relationships with their children from birth to age 3.
  • When a child is discharged from a Bay Area Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), we're the region's top provider of follow up services, monitoring, case management, and parental education through our Neonatal Follow-Up Program.
  • Home visits make up a large portion of the services offered to newborns and infants, which allows us to ensure that your child is progressing in his or her home environment—and that you have all the support you need to continue being a good parent.
  • All in-home care provisions take into account the socio-cultural context of your unique family dynamic as well as the personal plans you have for your child’s future. Assessments are relationship-based and include community playgroups to foster positive growth.

Continued Care for Older Children and Adolescents

  • Children between the ages of 3 and 18 are eligible for developmental and behavioral services that help evaluate, diagnose, and treat various conditions.
  • Medical intervention services includes talk therapy and medication, depending on individual need.
  • Psychiatry clinicians provide outpatient support for children suffering from a full range of psychological and psychiatric disorders, including adjustment disorders, PTSD, reactions to long-term illnesses, and anxiety and affective disorders.

Additional Information