Military Health System provides easy access to behavioral health care for children and youth

Military Health System provides easy access to behavioral health care for children and youth

Stripes Guam

Children and teens face normal anxieties because of their growth, development and social needs. For military families, there is the added stress of deployments, relocations and re-establishing family life in new communities. To address these additional needs, the Military Health System provides easy access to outpatient behavioral health care for children, teens and college students.

Parents, teachers, and friends are often the first to observe behavioral difficulties and can take the first steps to secure care. Don’t wait for an emergency situation. Getting behavioral health care is easy. For TRICARE Prime beneficiaries, routine primary care appointments to assess behavioral health must be offered within seven calendar days and within 30 minutes travel time of beneficiaries’ residences. Prime beneficiaries can use their primary care manager (PCM); a mental health provider within their primary care clinic; or a behavioral health care provider in the MTF or with their TRICARE-authorized provider in the community.  Following the initial behavioral health assessment, referrals for additional care are provided within four weeks or 28 days, unless the referring provider determines more urgent care is needed.

All other beneficiaries can schedule an appointment with any TRICARE-authorized provider. You don’t need referrals for mental health care appointments; however, after the eighth outpatient visit, you will need prior authorization.

If emergency care is required, beneficiaries should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Seek emergency care for a child or teen at risk of hurting themselves or others; is experiencing life-threatening conditions or abnormal behaviors; or is having an alcohol or drug overdose or significant side-effects. 

For an urgent care appointment, TRICARE Prime beneficiaries should first seek urgent care services from their PCM. Nonemergency care is available within 24 hours and within 30 minutes travel time of the beneficiary’s residence.  Parents of college-age children should ensure that the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) information is up-to-date and have a signed “Authorization for Disclosure of Medical or Dental Information” or DD Form 2870, if  access is needed to their child’s behavioral health information. For more information about getting care, visit

Military families have many resources when looking for help. They can call Military OneSource 24/7 and speak to a consultant. That number is 1-800-342-9647.  Beneficiaries can also call the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE (824-2273), and choose option 1.

Access to care and TRICARE’s behavioral health benefits focus on outpatient care for families and take into account the severity of behavioral health conditions.  TRICARE’s behavioral health providers offer individual, group, and family counseling, psychological testing, medication management, and help with higher levels of care, when needed. For more information about TRICARE’s mental health resources, visit  To download the Behavioral Health Care Services Fact Sheet, go to

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