Information Needed to Seek Help
Should you need to seek additional help for any youth you are working with, the following information can assist you along the way. Once you have read through this information, proceed to “Getting Help” for local places to get help, as well as for resources available across Manitoba.
HACK: If you are unable to find the right resource on the first try, keep looking! Ask for recommendations on where to go next if who you’re speaking to isn’t able to provide what you need. Most will try to assist you in finding the proper information, even if they have to direct you elsewhere. To receive the most helpful assistance, be open about what resources you need and ask direct questions about where you might be able to find them.
What Might Be Asked
This information is helpful to have on hand to process help requests. Here are some things to consider before you make a call. Remember, you can always call 911 in an emergency and you will be assisted immediately.
- Consent of the parent/legal guardian of the youth you are calling about. Note that you do not need this consent in emergency situations. If you do not have consent, you can still describe the situation without providing identifying data, and receive guidance about next steps – places to seek help, how to approach the parent/legal guardian with information, or how to discuss options and possibilities for a specific situation.
- The full name of both yourself and the child or teen you are calling about.
- The age and date of birth of the youth you are calling about.
- The legal guardian of the child or teen you are calling about. You may need to confirm this information beforehand if the youth is in care or new to your school or service. The legal guardian will need to be involved as help progresses, as they will need to consent for treatment, or provide transportation, additional information or other assistance as required.
- Whether the youth’s legal guardian or next of kin is aware of the effort to seek further help. As a helper or educator, you might need to call ahead to determine if a resource is the correct one for the situation, and the person you get in touch with may want to know the status of your inquiry for assistance.
- A current address
Other basic data might be asked but not always necessary:
- Name of the school attended
- Family physician if known,
- Other agencies or resources such as a counsellor or child welfare agency.
As the process evolves, a Manitoba Health Services card number may be needed. The family or guardian will be asked for this information, which is found on a purple card issued with the family name, and all dependents listed. It is also a good idea to make a list of things the family or guardian may need to take if they attend an appointment for assistance.
You will also likely be asked for:
- A recent history of the concern you are calling about. For example, if you are concerned that a child or teen may be contemplating suicide, you will be asked the reasons for your concern. Recent actions, statements, changes in behaviour, increased use of drugs or alcohol, recent legal charges and changes in living situation are all examples of information that might be important.
- Other history information such as previous involvement with health services, a list of any medications being taken, any previous hospitalizations, major health problems or legal concerns.
- A social history of the child or teen you are calling about, communicated to the best of your ability. You may have known the child or youth for a long time, or only a few weeks. You can inform the resource you have contacted of your level of involvement and provide information about family, school, friendships and culture as you are able to.
Try to keep in mind that you may be asked to provide information more than once, especially if you are approaching one or two places for assistance. Though this may seem frustrating, it will help to determine the best resource or service for the situation. Good, consistent information will assist the provider in giving you the best direction, and hopefully the best help possible.
Resolving Disagreements about Seeking Help
Often, there are multiple persons, services and agencies involved in efforts to assist youth. There may be family members, school personnel, health professionals, child welfare personnel and possibly others in a community, all with a role in providing services and assistance. Because multiple persons can be involved, there can often be conflicting opinions about the best way to proceed. This may happen when situations are more complex, or when a combination of helpers, family and friends are involved. Here are some useful things to keep in mind:
- Always act in the best interests of the child or youth.
Try not to get involved in a disagreement about the best course of action to take, or which helping resource to approach first. If you keep what’s best for the child or youth in the forefront of your thoughts and actions, there may be less conflict and a better outcome.
- Direct communication is often best.
Attending organized meetings to plan assistance for youth can be a problem in terms of time and other responsibilities. However, being at the table can mean that a better plan gets made, and can also prevent second hand, sometimes incorrect information from being shared.
- Keep It Simple.
Sometimes the simplest plan is the best. Helping children, youth and their families can be very complex and challenging, and it can sometimes seem as though your assistance is not enough to better the situation. Since research shows that a healthy relationship with a caring adult is one of the most powerful tools to help youth, establishing a good relationship to show that you care can at times be enough to produce some positive effects.
- Take Notes.
Most helpers and educators have multiple situations that require their attention. Do ensure that any workplace policies about recording plans and progress for helping youth are followed. Reliable documentation can help track progress, clarify individual roles, and provide an important record of the situation.
- Designate roles.
Once an agreement about next steps has been reached, roles can be assigned to the various helpers and family members involved in the plan. At times, good intentions can mean that too many folks are either trying to do the same thing or acting in a contradictory manner. Assigning and recording roles –for example: who will talk to the youth about the plan; who will organize schoolwork; is a good way to ensure consistent, organized help and reduce stress for all involved.
- Once you collectively feel that you have a good plan in place, set a date to review it. In this way, the team can come together again to make any necessary adjustments or provide a conclusion to the plan. It can also help keep team relations strong for future situations that may arise.
For more information, check out the Links and Resources section of the site.