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.
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.
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.
Halli, C. (2014, November 23). When Your Teen is Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2014/11/what-to-expect-when-your-teen-is-admitted-to-the-psychiatric-hospital
Author: Christina Halli
I'm sorry you're going through that. I want to know that while "everyone else" may have been through struggles, that doesn't make yours any less real and it also doesn't mean they aren't significant. Comparing yourself to others in that way isn't useful. Your pain is real and deserves to be taken seriously.
What you're describing here is a dangerous situation. You seem quite desperate. I'm sorry your last therapist didn't help but there's one thing I know, you need to reach out, and reach out, and reach out until you find the help you need. Maybe a doctor is a better person for your to see right now,
Hold onto your list and keep asking for help. You can do this. And see our list of hotlines and resources here: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources
And remember, you don't have to be suicidal to call a helpline.
- Natasha Tracy
- Breaking Bipolar
- Blog Manager
What do I do, I almost killed my self last night.
You can even text some of those numbers if you're not comfortable talking out loud. I know it's hard, but if you need to go to the hospital, please go. It feels hopeless now, but when we're suicidal, sometimes our brains just can't see the future very well. Our brains wanna see only dark and not the hopeful possibilities. Get help, and tell those people your fears about not being able to hang out with anyone or go to school. Being safe doesn't mean have to mean having no social life. People want to help. They want to make sure you never get to that dark place again, so be as open with them as possible.
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.
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.
As always, you can also call 911 and request assistance if you feel like your grandson is at risk of harming himself or someone else. The police can put him on a transport hold and take him to the hospital for assessment, too. Good luck to you and your family. I hope your grandson finds the help he needs.
You're right, those awkward silences can be unnerving for both you and your son, but with a little planning, you can get past that. My girls did not want to talk about the facility, their treatment, or being in the hospital. Most kids don't. So find something outside your son's current reality to talk about. What does he like to do? Does he skateboard, play sports, watch video games, enjoy movies? Download a few articles on those things to talk about what's going on in the fields he likes. My girls had also learned a few card games while in the hospital and I had them teach them to me (or you might teach one to him)--we had quite a few laughs while I fumbled through the rules of a new game. We also planned an imaginary family vacation to a destination my child had once told me she wanted to go. I stopped at a motel lobby on my drive to meet my daughter and grabbed hotel fliers, amusement park pages and the like (they're usually free in the lobby) and my daughter tried to see how expensive and outrageous she could make the trip.. (After one hospitalization, my daughter and I actually took a side-trip to "live" one of her desires from that dream vacation--a night in Las Vegas. We were broke, but for $75 we stayed at the Luxor, shared a hamburger dinner and I threw a quarter in the slot machine for her. We had a blast.) My husband was big on dad-jokes. When he would visit he would shamelessly start with one joke after another. My daughter would groan and complain in the beginning, but soon be throwing barbs back until, finally, we were all conversing freely. You know your son and your family dynamics. Use your strong suits to help him open up and dream. After a few awkward starts, I now remember visits as one of the times my girls and I bonded more closely. Good luck to you.
I'm so sorry to hear about all the troubles you're having with your son. This has got to be so difficult for you. While it has to be agony to be separated from him, at least you know that he is being evaluated and is safe right now. Can you contact the lawyer who gave you the paperwork and find out what you next step is? You may also want to call NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) in your area and see if they can't direct you to the support you need. You can find the contact information for NAMI on this HealthyPlace.com website in the "Resource" section of the website. NAMI may have answers for you about how to best help your son now or groups that can provide you someone to talk to so that you don't have to go through this by yourself. In the meantime, I'm sending my best thoughts to you and your son that they will set up a plan to help him.
I was so confused what did i miss how could this happen no way, everyone including my wife were talking suicide. mean wile im talking to my daughter and listening trying to understand what happened by the time i realised it was attention and she couldnt be more clearly as why she felt that way. the last 14 months have been real though I have had 3 surgeries 1 hospitalized for a moth almost died and because we are new to Texas we had no were or noone we could drop or daughter of with so she witnnessed all of it. but ever since I have been in n out of the hospital, My oldest boy left to the ARMY and My oldesrt Daughter to school in new york. its clearly why she felt lonely. by the time I was 100% sure she wasnt in dangare It was to late she is in the mental facility and I can get her out.
THEY HAVE OFFERED HER DEPRESION DRUGS
SHE IS NOW SURROUNDED BY KIDS THAT HAVE REAL ISSUES
HOW DO I GET HER OUT KNOW
I'm so sorry to hear your distress and bewilderment, but am glad that you found some help for your son. My daughter suffers from acute bipolar disorder. Her mood swings would go from manias where she stole money and cars and did all manner of destruction to depressive/suicidal episodes that would land her in the hospital. Like you, my main goal was to get my child home, safe with me, and away from those "awful" hospitals. Yet, every time we turned around, she was back in crisis. One day I threatened her, saying that if she didn't get it together, the next step would be a residential facility for a year. She turned and looked at me and said, "But, Mom, don't you get it? That's exactly where I belong. Do you have any idea how scary it is in my brain?" We put her in and it was the best/worst decision I've ever made. It broke my heart and shook my foundation about what kind of mother I was that I couldn't raise my own kid. But, it changed my daughter's life. She later said that she knows she would be dead without residential. Kids know. They often understand first how very ill they are. Your son may like the fact that he feels safe, can talk about his problems with professionals, and is surrounded by other people who are in the same boat. All the things my daughter gave up to be institutionalized are small potatoes compared to the tools she acquired to live a productive life, the insight we got into the meds/lifestyle she needed, and the resolve she built to come out and manage her mental illness. She's now finished up a certificate program in college, has a career, is engaged to a stable man and is doing so well. Your son may not need to be hospitalized again. But, he might. You may want to explore with him, in therapy, why he likes the hospital and determine if he's crying out for more help or simply trying to avoid responsibility. NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) is a national group that offers lots of free education and support groups for families. You might want to contact them to see what services are in your area. (Look at the "Resources" page on this site for NAMI's contact information and more sources of help.) In the meantime, I wish you well on your journey with your son.
Meanwhile, if you need your own mental health support through this, or you’re concerned one of your children may try again to end her life, here are some hotline resources, too: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
I am so sorry that you are in such pain. You ask the $64,000 question: how do we know? Isn't that it? How do we know if we're doing the right thing? How do we know if this is the right treatment? You can second guess yourself until you go crazy.
I think the answer is to trust ourselves. To trust that gut feeling. And, to trust the support system that we build around our children. That's what you're doing right now. Then the good news is that you don't have to answer those questions alone.
Before they admit your daughter, they will do an intake consultation. Tell them your fears. My girls have each been admitted to psychiatric hospitals a number of times. (And when that happens, you know your child is safe and getting the help she needs.) And, sometimes, they haven't. One time I was unsure if my daughter was so ill that she needed to be admitted, but her suicidal thoughts made me error on the side of caution. Yet, when we got to the hospital, she was better. We all talked about how best to treat her and decided not to admit her. Instead, we had her sign a safety contract (or, a written promise that she would not harm herself and what help she would take if she felt like it.) We made an appointment with her psychiatrist for the next day, she called her therapist and we put her into an Intensive Out-Patient program so she could learn coping skills. My point is you don't have to do this all alone. There is a team of professionals who can help you make the decision that feels right.
But, while your daughter is getting the help she needs, who is taking care of you? You need support too, Mama. Whether it is through friends, or a therapist, or NAMI meetings (see the Resources section on HealthyPlace.com for references) or hotlines, make sure you take care of yourself. You're right. You are the glue. And, clearly, every member of your family needs you.
Take care of yourself over these next few days, and I send my best wishes to you and all your family that things will get better.
I am here trying to keep my own head together my baby my youngest child was hospitalized on Monday night .
Part of me wants her home with me so I can protect her against the world .
Part of feels afraid that she will try to harm her self again .
I don't really have support that we need my other daughter's have their own lives and my fiance well he is judgemental.
I am lost I hate to see her in that place where is cold and her face expressions worry me .
I'm so sorry you are struggling so. I do understand your pain. When I drove away from hospitalizing my daughter, I felt like someone had just cut off my right arm. The loss and pain were palpable. As parents, our gut reaction is to take our child and pull her close and love the problem away. But, I can hear that the other part of you knows that your daughter needs to be in a place where people are trained to protect her and support her as she tries to get well. No one wants to put their baby in an institutional setting, but sometimes that sacrifice on our part is necessary to help our babies. That said, your child is not the only one suffering. In its own way, this is just as hard on you and you, too, need support and help to get well from the trauma you've suffered alongside your daughter. Unfortunately, very often our family and friends cannot be the ones to help. They don't understand what's going on, or have their own issues that get in the way of supporting you. It's not uncommon. Instead, call your local NAMI chapter (National Alliance of Mental Illness). They have support groups and parenting classes all geared to families facing mental illness. If you can afford it, find a therapist for yourself. There were times that I swear my therapist saved my life as I struggled with the pain of my daughter's hospitalizations. Not only did he get me through our separation, but he also prepared me to deal with my daughter when she returned home and that was very valuable to me. Finally, try to find an online support group or contact or two at a NAMI meeting. Talking to people in your same place can really help ease your pain while your daughter is hospitalized and when she comes home. You did the right thing, Rocio. Your daughter is safe. She won't like being in the hospital, but it will help begin to give her the tools she needs to deal with her situation. Like surgery, or chemo, or any other painful treatment needed to make sick people well, remind yourself that this is a major step to mental health and finding a way to cope with your child's illness. You will be in my thoughts.
Good luck! I hope your daughter stays safe.
I'd also recommend reaching out to the mental health ombudsman or to an organization like NAMI (nami.org) if you feel like your daughter's rights and your rights are being violated. These things are so particular to each state, city, county, etc., that you'd need to speak to someone in your area. Googling "ombudsman" and your county or city may help you find that person. Ombudsman navigate these tough situations and make sure people's rights are considered in the process.
Good luck! I hope your daughter is safe, and I'm sorry this encounter with the mental health system was so hard!
I am not sure I am pleased with our decision to hospitalize her. I know she is safe there, but I worry the medication (sleeping pills they gave and the kids who have different mental illness in the same unit.
I am scared that she will be there for a long time.
We are waiting for hospital psychiatrist to call to tell us which medication she will take!
I am wondering whether we should agree or disagree with medication they want tp give her.
We have to wait for 6pm to visit her.
I know I have to take care of myself (I have hypertension and now it's very high) but I can't help to worry about her. I can't sleep for 6 days.
I feel guilty not knowing this early to help her. I feel scare to have her at home but worry her well-being when she is in hospital. She is so young! Why she has to go through this! Please help me to understand that the hospital is the good place for her safety and she will be home soon. I will do anything to make her happy, safe. Thamks a lot.
Thank you so much for your support and kind words.
My daughter took med and looks happier today.
My husband and I visited her every day .
Please tell me what we should do during the visiting (2hrs) we play cards, talked eat and....don't know what else to say or do. Today I visited her twice , afternoon and evening. In the evening we came for 1.5 hr. After eating, we don't know whatelse to do because she doesn't want to play card any more. And the girls(patient) next to us keeping crying and complaining so I told them to move somewhere else, but no where else to sit. Luckily she said she wanted to take a shower but hesitated to do it because we still were here. I encouraged her to go taking a shower and waited for her.
She looked happier today. Her med side effect is gone ( no more headache) .it looked like the med does the trick, relieve the depression. Gradually she will feel a lot better and will be discharged and resume her normal life?
Thamks everyone for posting your experinses
I'm so glad to hear such good news about your daughter! It sounds like you're all on the right track.
Might I suggest coloring books? (You know, the intricate, adult coloring books that are so popular now?) My girls and I liked them because they let us do something while we talked. We tried to finish a picture together during the visit. I also brought in catalogs so that we could dream aloud about the future we would make together. (Once, when my girl needed a new therapist, I printed out the list with pictures and we "interviewed" each bio to see who we thought would be a good fit.)
But future plans are important. You, your husband, and your daughter will need a plan when she comes out. What can you do to create a support system? What safeguards can be created so you don't end up back in this place again? What dreams can you aspire to so that your daughter has the sense that she is doing something concrete to move her life forward?
You have the luxury of intermission in this life-play. This is a time when you can assess where you're at and make adjustments for the happy ending you are shooting for. You know the pitfalls now. So, now's the time to fortify yourselves and plan so that you don't fall into the same trap again.
For my girls and me, hospital visits were the time for us to dream and plan and assess. Our conversations were gentle and productive. And we usually emerged on the same page about how we were going to keep them out of the hospital again.
Finally, yes, she will gradually resume a normal or new-normal life. Just remember "gradual" is the key word here. You child has been very ill, and like any other organ's illness, her brain will need some time to recuperate.
I wish you all the best on your journey. This might sound weird, but I feel blessed by my girls' mental illness. Over the years we've been able to have a much deeper, more honest and game-free relationship with each other--a relationship that we might have been too-busy or too-distracted to engage in otherwise. My thoughts are with your family that you experience the small blessings of your current experiences.
I am so sorry for what you are going through. I had to admit my 12 very old daughter on 10/6/17. I very much had the same feelings as you. Having my 12 year old admitted into a hospital that was primarily older teenagers was very concerning for me. But, there was nothing I could do, and I just had to trust the process.
Hearing that my daughter was planning on suicide broke me. She was admitted to the Mental Health hospital for 5 days. We were only allowed to visit her for 30 minutes in the evening. The hospital was 2.5 hours away from where we live, but my husband and I made the drive there every night.
I knew my daughter was struggling but I was unable to see how badly. She has always been an amazingly bright person who lights up every room. Seeing her light dim has been extremely difficult. We opted to put her on Lexapro, and so far it has been good.
I myself have struggled with pretty significant depression and anxiety, and I am definitely struggling right now. I am trying to keep moving forward with "normal life" however, I can feel myself slipping closer and closer into depression. I begin my own therapy next week, and as a family we begin therapy as well.
Just know that you are not alone.
I so appreciate you reaching out to Temmy on this site. Especially when we are immersed in the daunting struggles of our children's mental illness, we can feel so alone and isolated. It can feel life-saving to hear from others who are walking a similar path.
I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. Our desire to protect our children is great and being so far away from your child can be heartbreaking. I'm not surprised to hear that you are struggling with depression and anxiety yourself. I know whenever I put one of my girls into the hospital depression sits on my shoulder. However, I'm glad to hear that you are beginning therapy next week. We mamas have to make sure we get the support we need also.
I wish you the best in your journey and, again, thank you for reaching out.
In general, they are a good resource for families of people with mental illness. My child is only 10, but in my professional life, I have seen how hard it is to connect adult children to their supportive parents. Doctors don't create discharge plans for people with mental illness the way they do for people who've been hospitalized for conditions like cancer or diabetes. Family supports are often happily utilized in those instances, but the stigma of mental illness can really limit how much individuals or providers will allow their family into the mental health recovery process. NAMI has done some work in making psychiatric hospitalizations less traumatic for individuals and their families. It's a hard path, but hopefully that link can provide some good places to start!