MedStar Family Choice District of Columbia believes that addressing behavioral health concerns is a part of treating the whole person. That’s why we are excited to share this comprehensive directory of community resources, clinical guidelines, and practice tools to help both providers and enrollees navigate behavioral health conditions when they arise. Whether you are looking for a screening tool to utilize for depression, or substance abuse treatment options, this webpage has you covered to provide high-quality, holistic health care.

Check back frequently as we will continually improve and update the resources located here.

Common Clinical Diagnoses

MedStar Family Choice DC aims to support its providers with the necessary tools to effectively provide holistic health care. Here you will find comprehensive resources to help you talk about, identify, evaluate, treat, and provide referrals for a number of behavioral health conditions. You'll find a summary of key factors, recommended screening tools, and clinical guidelines to support best practices.

MedStar Family Choice DC recommends utilizing practice guidelines from credible sources like the American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the Clinical Practice Guidelines that MedStar Health has developed themselves. The included guidelines are provided to assist physicians and other clinicians in making decisions regarding the care of their patients. They are not a substitute for individual judgment brought to each clinical situation by the patient’s primary care provider in collaboration with the patient. As with all clinical reference resources, they reflect the best understanding of the science of medicine at the time of publication but should be used with the clear understanding that continued research may result in new knowledge and recommendations. MedStar Family Choice DC assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided and makes no representations or warranties about the suitability of the information for any purpose or with any particular patient.  MedStar Family Choice DC shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising from the use of any such guidelines.

While some behavioral health conditions can easily be addressed in the primary care setting, others require more specialized assessment and treatment interventions.  If you feel that a patient’s condition is outside of your scope of practice, please see Community Behavioral Health Resources below to make a referral to a behavioral health provider.


  • Anxiety in Adults

    Anxiety disorders are prevalent mental health conditions that affect a significant portion of the adult population. Estimates suggest that nearly 20% of adults in the United States have some anxiety disorder, which can include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, each characterized by excessive worry, fear, or apprehension. Treatment options for anxiety in adults often involve a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle modifications. Psychoeducation, stress management techniques, and support groups can also be integral components of comprehensive treatment plans. The goal is to alleviate symptoms, improve coping mechanisms, and enhance overall mental well-being, promoting a more balanced and fulfilling life for individuals grappling with anxiety.

    Screening Tools:

    • General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7)

    Clinical Guidelines:

  • ADHD in Adults

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that often persists into adulthood. While commonly associated with childhood, a significant number of individuals continue to experience symptoms throughout their adult years. It is estimated that up to 5% of American adults suffer from ADHD. ADHD is characterized by persistent difficulties in sustaining attention, impulse control, and hyperactivity. The impact of these symptoms can extend beyond work or academic settings, affecting relationships and daily functioning. Diagnosis can be challenging due to the diversity of symptoms and their overlap with other mental health conditions, including trauma. Treatment options typically include a combination of behavioral interventions, psychoeducation, and in some cases, medication. A tailored, multi-modal approach is recommended to address the unique challenges faced by adults with ADHD and to enhance overall functioning and quality of life.

    Screening Tools:

    • Wender Utah Rating Scale

    Clinical Guidelines:

  • Depression in Adults

    Depression in adults is a prevalent and serious mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. It is estimated that approximately 18% of adults in the United States suffer from depression. Treatment options for depression often involve a combination of psychotherapy and medication, as well as making lifestyle changes, increasing exercise, and strengthening social supports. Early detection and a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan are essential for effectively addressing depressive symptoms and promoting mental well-being in adults.

    Screening Tools:

    • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)

    Clinical Guidelines:

Children & Teens

  • Anxiety in Children & Teens

    Anxiety disorders in children and teens are common and can significantly impact their emotional well-being and daily functioning. It is estimated that nearly 10% of children ages 3-17 are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which can include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Symptoms include excessive worry, fearfulness, restlessness, and often physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches. Early identification and intervention are crucial, with treatment including a combined approach of psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, parent and family support, and in some cases, medication. Creating a supportive environment, teaching coping skills, and fostering open communication are key components of effective anxiety management in children.

    Screening Tools:

    • Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED)
    • General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7; ages 12+)

    Clinical Guidelines:

  • ADHD in Children & Teens

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition that frequently emerges in childhood and can persist into adulthood. It is estimated that up to 10% of children ages 3-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. The disorder is characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can significantly impact a child's academic performance, social interactions, and overall well-being. Diagnosis involves a comprehensive evaluation of behavior, developmental history, and educational performance. Treatment options often include behavioral interventions, parent training, and school accommodations to address specific challenges. In some cases, healthcare professionals may also prescribe medications to manage symptoms. Early identification and a multidisciplinary approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare providers are crucial in effectively managing ADHD in children and promoting optimal development.

    Screening Tools:

    • NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scales

    Clinical Guidelines:

  • Depression in Children & Teens

    Depression in children and teens is a serious mental health concern characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, irritability, and a loss of interest in activities. The prevalence of depression in youth has been on the rise, with various factors such as genetics, trauma, and environmental stressors contributing to its development.  Family history is a big risk factor of depression, as mothers who struggle with depression impact the development of childhood depression 50% of the time. It is estimated that nearly 4% of children and teens have diagnosed depression, with nearly 15% of teens reporting a major depressive episode in the last year. Identifying depression in children and teens can be challenging, as symptoms may manifest differently than in adults, often appearing as behavioral problems or academic decline. Early identification and intervention are crucial, with treatment including a combined approach of psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, parent and family support, and in some cases, medication. Family support and open communication play pivotal roles in the successful management of depression in children and teens, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to address both biological and environmental factors influencing a child's mental health.

    Screening Tools:

    • Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)

    • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9; ages 12+)

    Clinical Guidelines:

Community Behavioral Health Resources

There are several ways to access behavioral health resources in the Washington, DC community. In addition to the services offered by MedStar Family Choice DC, there exists a range of behavioral healthcare providers located in inpatient, outpatient, not-for-profit, and governmental agency settings. When assessing where to refer a patient who is in need of behavioral health care, it is important to consider their diagnosis, acuity of need, insurance status, location and access to transportation, and history of care. If a patient has a preexisting relationship with a behavioral healthcare provider, it is important to consult that provider to support continuity of care and appropriate referral.

It is essential that providers familiarize themselves with local 24/7 crisis resources, as providers are often the first point of contact for individuals seeking help. If you believe the individual poses a risk of immediate harm to themselves or others, do not wait: call 911. Individuals not at risk of immediate harm and/or who have a history of self-injury or hospitalization should also be provided with the contact for the National Suicide Lifeline (988) as well as local crisis resources, such as the mobile crisis units listed below.

  • The Access HelpLine

    The Access HelpLine is designed to support ease of access for individuals seeking behavioral health care and coordination across service providers. The call taker will help assess the individual’s need and refer to the provider of best fit. 

  • Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment (ASTEP)

    ASTEP is the substance use disorder treatment program for adolescents under age 21. Individuals seeking treatment can access services by contacting directly any of DBH’s designated youth substance use disorder providers.

  • Behavioral Health Resources in Washington DC

    The Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) is Washington, DC’s governmental agency in charge of the provision of behavioral health care. DBH contracts with community-based service providers to deliver behavioral health services and certifies each provider to ensure conformity to federal and District regulations.

  • CHAMPS (Child and Adolescent Mobile Psychiatric Services)

    CHAMPS is a 24/7 mobile crisis unit for individuals 17 years old and under, and can assess the youth wherever they are in the community. CHAMPS is managed by Catholic Charities.

  • Community Response Team (CRT)

    The CRT is a 24/7 mobile crisis unit that extends behavioral health care to individuals in the community who are in crisis or are experiencing emotional, psychiatric or substance use vulnerability that requires more intensive, wrap-around support. 

  • DC Mental Health Access in Pediatrics

    DC Mental Health Access in Pediatrics (DC MAP) supports child and adolescent providers in treating behavioral health conditions in the primary care setting. Primary Care Providers can consult with the DC MAP team of psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and care coordinators, who provide access to referrals and resources, and facilitate provider education and training that enhances integration.

  • Emergency Psychiatric Services

    The Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) provides a physical setting for assessment and safety planning of individuals experiencing psychiatric emergencies as an alternative to hospitalization. The location is open 24/7 and serves adults age 18 and older.

  • General Resource: Behavioral Health Resource Link of DC

    The Behavioral Health Resource Link of DC is a website with links to a range of emergency and preventative services and resources across behavioral, physical, and social needs in the city.

  • Same Day Urgent Care

    The Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) provides a physical setting for same day assessment, counseling and medication management. The location also offers pharmacy services, and can provide medication to those without insurance. Same-day assessment available between 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Substance Use Disorder Assessment and Referral Center (ARC)

    Individuals seeking treatment for substance use can access services via the Assessment and Referral Center and be referred for a variety of treatment programs and community-based supports. Individuals can also contact directly any of the Department of Behavioral Health's (DBH) designated substance use disorder providers. Open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. For same day service, arrive before 3:30 p.m.

Information current as of: