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Youth Empowerment Services (YES) is a mental health system of care designed with you in mind. If you are under 18, a resident of Idaho, have a mental health diagnosis from a therapist or medical professional, and your mental health impacts your ability to participate in family, school, or community activities, then YES may be able to help you. The YES system of care was created to give you a larger voice in what your mental health care looks like, including the people involved, the therapies you try, and the way you measure success.

The FAQs listed below will answer some common questions about how to decide if you may have a mental health concern, who to talk to, how to get help, and what to expect. If you have questions that are not answered on this page, check out more of the YES website or read the Guide to YES: A Practice Manual, which explains the YES system of care in detail. If you are having a mental health emergency, or think that you are in danger, please call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency room. If you are considering suicide or need to talk, CALL or TEXT 988 – the Idaho Crisis and Suicide Hotline, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. 

Note: Youth under the age of 18 may apply for Medicaid, but parents and/or guardians will likely need to be involved in the application process as determined on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions or would like to apply, contact 877-456-1233 (toll free) or

If you have Medicaid, for help finding a provider, visit this page or call 855-202-0973.

Interesting Fact: The name “Youth Empowerment Services” and the YES bluebird logo were chosen by Idaho youth when YES was developed.

Youth FAQs

There is a Youth Mental Health Checklist to help you decide if you need help with your mental health. After using the checklist, take a look at your answers. If you answered yes to any of the statements, then you may benefit from a full mental health assessment. 

Completing a mental health assessment will help you decide if behavioral health care may be helpful.

If you are comfortable, ask your parents or guardians to contact a local behavioral health provider to schedule an assessment. If you or your parents need help locating a behavioral health professional for an assessment, contact your local Children’s Mental Health Office, the Idaho Behavioral Health Plan managed care provider (if you already have Medicaid), or your private insurance company for local resources.

If you are not comfortable talking to your parents, you can talk to another responsible adult such as a friend’s parent, a teacher, school nurse, guidance counselor, a doctor, or a leader at your church. If they have questions about the process or Youth Empowerment Services (YES), show them this website, YES 101 or YES for Youth.

If you or your parents/guardians need help with these steps, read the How Do I Get Help? guide.

If you are new to the mental health system and would like more information on how to get started, read the How Do I Get Help? guide. You will find information about:

  • Deciding if you need a mental health assessment.
  • Finding out what kind of insurance you have.
  • Making an appointment with a provider.
  • Taking charge of your care.

If you need to speak to someone about your mental health you have a few options.

If you are looking for a counselor or other behavioral health care provider you can:

Some services require a parent or guardian to be involved, while others do not. The Children’s Mental Health office and/or your insurance company can give you more details.

If you are having a mental health emergency, or you think you are in danger, please contact 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency room.

If you are considering suicide, or just need to talk to someone, please call (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) or text the Idaho Crisis and Suicide Hotline at 988. You can call or text even if you are not considering suicide, but just need to talk to someone about how you feel. If you currently have Medicaid you can also call Idaho Behavioral Health Plan managed care provider and speak to someone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Youth Empowerment Services (YES) is a system of care* that helps children and youth under the age of 18 who have serious emotional disturbance (SED).

The goal of YES is to give children and youth who have SED access to the services and supports that will help them improve their mental health.

*The YES system of care is a spectrum of services and supports for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance and their families. The YES system of care creates meaningful partnerships between families, youth, providers, and government agencies to address the specific needs of the youth and family to help them function better at home, in school, in the community and throughout life.

Serious emotional disturbance (SED) is a legal term that refers to children and youth under age 18 who have a mental, behavioral, or emotional issue that limits their ability to participate in family, school, or community activities.

A person is considered to have SED if they have both a Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) diagnosis and a functional impairment as identified by the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool.

The legal definition of SED is defined in Idaho Code,16-2403(13).

To participate in the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) system of care, you must live in Idaho, be under the age of 18, and have serious emotional disturbance (SED).

To determine if you could benefit from the YES system of care, you can start by:

  • Talking to your current mental health provider.
  • Contacting your local Children’s Mental Health Office.
  • Calling the Independent Assessor to schedule an appointment for a mental health assessment if you do not currently have Medicaid or if you already have Medicaid and wish to receive respite services.

If your family does not know about Youth Empowerment Services (YES), you can have them read YES 101. You can also have them look at the parent section of this website to find more information.

Your family can help you decide if you may benefit from a mental health assessment, and if so, help you find a behavioral health provider.

A big part of YES is the Child and Family Team (CFT), which is a way to set goals, plan, and coordinate treatment, and evaluate progress. Your family can participate on your CFT to help you identify your strengths, set short and long-term goals, and help you celebrate your successes in treatment.

The Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) is a tool that looks at different areas of your life, such as:

  • Your past experiences.
  • Individual strengths.
  • Social and family interactions.
  • Your emotional needs.
  • Your activities.

The CANS identifies areas where you show strength and areas where you need support. You can then use this information to create a plan to improve your mental health.

One benefit of using the CANS to create your plan is that it gives everyone a common language when talking about your care. This means that everyone involved in helping you will know what goals you are working on and what strengths you have to help you along the way. Youth Empowerment Services (YES) is based on a youth-involved team approach to planning, so this common language with common goals will help you design a plan that works for you.

If you have family or friends who may benefit from the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) system of care, you can share this website, give them the YES 101, talk to them about finding a mental health provider, or have them read the How Do I Get Help? guide. You can also be supportive of their mental health goals and join their Child and Family TEAM (CFT) if they ask you.

If you are worried about the safety of a friend or family member who may struggle with mental health concerns, you can:

  • Call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) or text (3 pm – midnight, Monday – Friday) at 208-398-HELP (4357).
  • Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) and speak to someone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Call 9-1-1 if they need immediate help to be safe.

That is a hard question to answer because everyone has a different story. 

What we do know is that having a diagnosis and the results from a Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) can give you valuable information about yourself. Knowing what your strengths are can help you focus on what works for you. Knowing what your needs are can help you find supports. Having a diagnosis can help your doctor understand your medical needs. Together, those things can help you.

With the introduction of the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) system of care, new and updated mental health services and supports are being introduced in Idaho. The system of care uses a practice model and specific principles of care to guide how those services are provided to children and their families.

It is important to remember that while YES is a system of care developed in Idaho, not all behavioral health providers and private insurance companies participate. If you want to access the YES system of care, it is important to know if your provider is part of the YES system of care. This means they have been trained to follow the principles of care and use the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool. Providers who are part of the Idaho Behavioral Health Plan managed care network that serve youth are YES providers.

If you don’t meet the criteria for Youth Empowerment Services (YES), you will still be able to get mental health care. There are behavioral health providers all over the state that can help you.

If you don’t already have a behavioral health provider, you can:

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