What can I try?

Adult Interventions

Advice for parents, teachers, counselors, and other adults.

Determine how dangerous the aggression is. Is it verbal aggression? Physical violence? Intimidation and threats?

If the youth is physically violent, try to isolate them from anyone they may hurt and attempt to calm them while maintaining your own safety.

Make sure you stay calm while you are interacting with them. Take a break to calm yourself first if you can.

If they are in a safe place, give them space to cool down and do not try to process with them or give them consequences until they are calm.

Ask about or try to find out what need they are trying to fill.

Offer them options to help them calm down.

Set clear limits for safety of what they can and cannot do, and how you will respond if they cannot be safe.

Let them know you are there for them and your priority is keeping them and others safe. 

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Who can help?

Get counseling or mental health treatment

There are several different ways to seek counseling or treatment. This includes a private therapist, a school counselor, mental health center services, and/or substance abuse treatment.

Private therapists can be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC), or a psychologist. This is usually covered by insurance and occurs weekly or every other week. Most therapists will individualize treatment and may offer more frequent sessions if needed. Youth may also receive counseling at Schools. This may be in the form of a school counselor who is accessible to all youth. Find out from the teacher who the school counselor is and how you and/or the youth can set up a time with them. The school counselor can give you more information about services available in the school.

Youth in crisis may need more intensive support than outpatient therapy or school counseling. Mental health centers offer a variety of services: case management, in-home services, and individual and family therapy. Some mental health centers also offer medication management. 

See below for Helena providers and tips for Selecting a Provider.


Contact Information

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Seek an alternative place to stay.

This option is most appropriate if youth’s aggression/violence is specific to or triggered by one setting or person. 

There are times when getting some space can stabilize a crisis. If there is a safe friend or family member in the picture, it may help for the youth to stay with them for a few nights, or until a plan can be made. If this isn't an option, a short term stay in shelter care might be. Families should contact the Youth Crisis Diversion Project to access this option. Mental health centers can access shelter care for clients with approval from their supervisor.

Youth involved with Youth Court or Child & Family Services may also access shelter care through these agencies. 

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Call 9-1-1

If youth cannot calm down and/or hurts someone else, call 9-1-1 for assistance from Law Enforcement.  Inform them of legal consequences and possible involvement of Youth Court.

When calling 9-1-1, be ready to give the dispatcher the right information. This includes name: phone number, address, date of birth, people involved, a description of the situation, and what kind of help you need. It may be helpful to inform the dispatcher of the child’s mental health issues so that the responding officer is aware. Remember that 9-1-1 is an emergency response, and the goal of the responding officer will be to ensure safety and move on to the next call.

There are several possible responses by law enforcement. Law enforcement may provide support to stabilize, transport youth to the Emergency Room for evaluation, write a ticket, and/or place a youth in detention. Once law enforcement arrives, the outcome is up to their discretion. See Law Enforcement for more information.

Also visit 9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions.

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