Should My Troubled Teen Be Hospitalized?

A troubled teen in crisis requires qualified, professional attention, to prevent her from harming herself or others, and to ensure her best chance for recovery.

The challenge for parents is determining the type of help their teenager needs. In a crisis situation, parents may feel overwhelmed and believe that hospitalization is the best course of action. Unfortunately, that may not be the best way to help your child.

How to Determine the Level of Crisis

You will help your child most effectively if you can identify important risk factors and get her the help she needs. Many parents delay intervention, hoping the situation will correct itself, or that their teen will “grow out of it.” Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

Troubled teens often have behavioral or emotional challenges. They may exhibit at-risk behavior such as alcohol or drug use or abuse, unexplained school absences or minor run-ins with law enforcement.

Some less obvious signs of trouble include withdrawal or disengagement from friends, family and leisure activities. Sleeplessness, mood swings and changes in appetite are also potential indications of a problem.

A troubled teenager can elevate to crisis level quickly, especially without intervention. If you believe you’re losing control of your child, or if the situation results in constant upheaval in your home, your teen may be approaching the crisis stage.

When Hospitalization Is the Right Choice

If your teen threatens to harm herself or other people, she clearly requires immediate inpatient care. You should also consider hospitalization if your child exhibits uncontrollable anger or rage, or if she experiences hallucinations or manic behavior.

If you can safely transport your child to the hospital, staff members can ensure her safety. If you don’t believe you can safely drive her there, contact your local hospital and describe the situation. In some areas, medical facilities can dispatch a crisis team to assist you.

Contact the police as a last resort, only if you truly fear for your child’s safety or that of your family.

Alternatives to Psychiatric Hospitalization

Although inpatient psychiatric treatment will stabilize your child and prevent her from harming anyone, it will do little to truly help her overcome her problems. In fact, once your child is stabilized (at least for the moment), she will be released into your care and the pattern may repeat itself.

If you believe your child requires a high level of immediate care but doesn’t pose a threat to herself or others, consider residential care rather than hospitalization.

Residential treatment programs are designed to address the underlying problems that led to your child’s crisis. The intense focus of this type of intervention means your child can focus exclusively on healing, free from the distractions of daily life.

Havenwood Academy offers residential treatment programs for girls and teens ages 12 to 17, in a peaceful and loving environment. Our experienced team understands how to cut through the protective walls teens build, and reach young women on a compassionate and emotional level.

Contact us today to learn more about our experiential therapy programs and how we can help you and your troubled teen.