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When Your Teen is Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital

It took four hours to admit my 15-year-old son, Bob, to the psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation. It had been a long stressful day since Bob told his therapist he almost killed himself the night before. She had made Bob sign a safety contract then released him to me. I tried to keep him busy and distracted, but by late afternoon he could fight no more. Bob asked me to take him to the hospital.

The admission process was painfully slow. Several people asked Bob the same, endless questions. Each time Bob answered them my heart clenched.

Finally, they gave him a gown and took him away.

Admitted your teen to the psychiatric hospital can be scary. This parent of a suicidal teen shares her story of her child in the psychiatric hospital.

My husband, Bill, and I returned to the hospital with some of Bob’s belongings. It was 10:00 p.m. and I felt a small sense of relief. My son was alive and safe for now.

“Why are you crying?” I asked Bill. It had been a horrifying and hectic day, but sadness was not what I was feeling.

“I didn’t realize how sick he is.”

I did. Bob had showed signs of depression in second grade. He tried antidepressant medication in sixth grade, then was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At the beginning of ninth grade, I brought Bob to this exact hospital because he became violent, but he was not admitted.

Everything had been leading up to this moment. While my spouse had always been supportive, it took this hospitalization for him to fully understand. Our son has a serious mental illness and it was not going away.

Mental Hospitals Provide Safety and Structure for Patients

The next week was a blur. We were allowed to speak to our son on the phone for 10 minutes, twice a day. We could visit for two hours each evening.

Visiting our son felt like visiting a high security prison:

  • Only immediate family members were allowed.
  • No more than two visitors at a time were permitted.
  • All visitors were searched.
  • No outside food, unless earned was allowed.
  • No candy or treats were permitted.
  • No contraband (straws, staples, drawstrings) were allowed.

Each night we sat with Bob in a large, barren room. He was inattentive and sometimes hostile, mostly towards me. It was excruciating to sit with him.

Hospital Staff Guide Parents of Mentally Ill Children

We met with Dr. Clark mid-week. She blasted information, directions and statistics at us. She explained Bob would be at high risk for suicide after his release from the hospital. Therefore, she ordered eyes-on-supervision 24/7 for 30 days. There would be no electronics and no contact with Bob’s girlfriend. She described suicide contagion. She told us 80% of marriages fail after a child’s suicide.

As we left the meeting, we saw Bob exercising with a group in the visitation room. He looked like a zombie as he swayed back and forth, arms outstretched, eyes vacant.

My next door neighbor came over to help me make the house safe, a job I couldn’t do alone. We started with the obvious harmful objects. Soon I became crazed suggesting every household item could be dangerous. My friend talked me down, but it wasn’t easy.

Admitted your teen to the psychiatric hospital can be scary. This parent of a suicidal teen shares her story of her child in the psychiatric hospital.

Another friend came by over the weekend to help redecorate Bob’s room. She skillfully displayed Bob’s memorabilia on the walls. I arranged the many cards and gifts that arrived.

Bob was released after eight days inpatient. When we got to the house, he saw the balloons on the mailbox. We stopped to take pictures with his little sister. When he saw his room and all his personal items on display, he cried. Though the battle wasn’t over, my son was home.

You can find Christina on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

118 thoughts on “When Your Teen is Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital”

  1. Hello, I am a teenager who was admitted to a behavioral hospital 2 times. For depression,anger,homicidal thoughts and such. The hospital I went to [moderated] was not good. It made me more angry where I went to a partial day program at another hospital which helped me so much. But the impatient I went to had 1 hour of school with 3 meals a day but not great instruction and in my opinion I don’t think that it helped me with all the stuff they gave me. There were many fights and such and it was an uncomfortable situations. The beds were worse than the rubber covers on school bus seats with not good blankets, leaving me restless all night with the medicine they gave me that makes me go to sleep. I don’t like hospitals at all

  2. Hi Susan,
    My 13 year old son was admitted to a mental home 2 days ago. He is a very sweet and gentle person. When I visited him yesterday, he was upset because in one of his group therapy, they were tee talking about violence, killing by accident and so on. Things like that makes him very nervous. Also, there were other kids on the hallway crying. It was very depressing being there. I decided to take him there because he was having suicidal thoughts and told me that he was afraid of his own mind. Other than that, he is not violent or anything like that. I really want to revoke my consent to keep him in there because I really feel that facility it’s getting him worse. But I don’t know what my rights are.

    1. Hi Maggie,

      What an uncomfortable position to be in! I’m so sorry for you and your son. I do not know what your rights are but suggest that you may want to check out one of these resources. “211” is a distribution line on your telephone for health and human services. You can call them 24/7 and somebody can provide you with information regarding the services in your area. NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) is another good resource for information you may want to seek out. You can find the number for them on the “Resources” page here at the HealthyPlace.com site. A few phone calls might help you educate yourself as to your rights and options. In the meantime, my heart goes out to both you and your son.

      1. I’ve been trying to get my adopted son help he has a slew of issues adha bi polar rad and others he has been addmitted alot over a year now the state says if I admit him again they are taking him from me how the heck is this possible I only want to help him and if I lose my son I lose my world so heart breaking

        1. That does seem like a strange response from the state, Bobby! I’m not sure where you live, but I would call your mental health ombudsman. That person is a neutral party who will help you advocate for your child’s mental health needs. They know how the system works, and they can make sure service providers aren’t mistreating or neglecting your son’s mental health needs. I’m not sure if you work with an adoption social worker or have other supports in place, too, but I would also talk to them. Legal Aid is free for legal advice, too. If you don’t already have a children’s mental health case manager, call up your county and see if you can get your son connected. It doesn’t seem right to me that a parent would be punished for getting the child the help they need, but I don’t know the entire situation or how laws work where you’re at. So definitely seek out legal advice, the ombudsman, or service providers like social workers or case managers who can advocate.

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