Having a teen in crisis requires parents to face difficult facts and make decisions for which they may not be prepared. Although some situations are clearly indicative of an emergency, parents may question their own instincts, fearing an overreaction.
Experts recommend using a triage approach to determining the true nature of the problem. For the health and safety of your entire family, parents are also strongly encouraged to seek professional advice and assistance for dealing with any type of mental or emotional crisis.
Common Teenage Crisis Situations
Some situations clearly communicate a major problem with your child — if you find illegal drugs in her possession, for example, or if your child is arrested. Running away from home and cutting or other forms of self-harm also are obvious signals.
If your daughter comes home from a party smelling of alcohol or showing signs of drinking, should you panic? What if she casually mentions having thoughts of harming herself? What if your otherwise normal teenager begins to experience extreme levels of panic or anxiety in times of great stress? In truth, each of these situations may indicate an existing or impending crisis.
Evaluating the Severity of the Problem
Unfortunately, no easy method yet exists for determining the seriousness of each situation. Every child is different, as is every scenario. Experts do agree on one thing, however: If you sense that your child’s problems require professional attention, seek it out immediately.
Try to avoid discussing the situation with friends or extended family members, and never compare your child to other kids or to herself at an earlier age.
Psychologists suggest considering the degree of control your child seems to have over herself and her environment. If you have any doubt about whether your child has lost control, it’s time to speak to a mental health professional.
Where to Find Help
If your child appears to pose a threat to herself or others, the only option is to call 911. If no immediate danger exists, however, the next step can be confusing.
Parents and caregivers are often hesitant to seek professional help when their children are in crisis, believing that they can handle the problem internally or with the help of their church or extended family. In other cases, parents unknowingly become enablers for their children, making excuses for her bad choices. Without the benefit of professional counseling and guidance, you may struggle with finding the right path.
Finding appropriate intervention strategies can present a challenge. At Havenwood Academy, we specialize in crisis intervention for girls ages 12 to 17. Our staff of trained professionals understands the unique challenges that emergency situations can present to parents and caregivers. Our residential treatment protocols are especially effective for dealing with the challenges young women may face, mentally and emotionally.
If you perceive an urgent need for professional intervention for your daughter or another young woman in your care, please contact us immediately. We will help you understand the next steps for helping your teen in crisis.