When Your Teen is Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital

November 23, 2014 Christina Halli

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.

APA Reference
Halli, C. (2014, November 23). When Your Teen is Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, June 17 from

Author: Christina Halli

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 5 2017 at 9:55 am

I'm so sorry for your suffering, Temmy. I'm Susan Traugh, another author at Putting my daughter into a psychiatric hospital for the first time felt like cutting off my right arm. I couldn't stop feeling afraid, or that I had failed my child in some way. I remember how terrified I was to leave my child with strangers in a place that felt so overwhelming and scary. But, you did the right thing. Your child will be safe there until they can regulate her meds and come up with a plan. (Chances are she will not stay very long before they want to release her or move her to a different facility.) I will warn you that she will not like the place and try to talk you into taking her out. She is having to confront her illness in a way she probably hasn't done before and it will make her uncomfortable. She will be under strict rules of behavior that she may not like. (But, remember, these rules also apply to all the other patients and will keep your child safe.) Despite the scariness, discomfort and trauma of a hospitalization, I believe it is the first step to wholeness and wellness. Remember, your child is a minor and you are part of her treatment team. If she has a regular psychiatrist, you can call her or him to coordinate care. If not, you may want to bounce things off your pediatrician if that will make you feel more comfortable. Again, this site has resources to check out meds and educate yourself on diagnoses. Education is power. Both of my daughters were hospitalized a number of times for their mental illness. My youngest had to stay in a residential facility for a year. It was one of the worst years of my life. But, it was worth it when my daughter said, "Mom, going to residential was the worst thing that every happened to me--but it changed, and saved, my life and I'm so happy that you did it." That child has graduated a certificate program at college and is working her first job. She is happy and healthy and functioning. She has a nice group of friends. (My other daughter is now working as a preschool teacher.) You and your daughter have a rough patch ahead of you as you work together to get her the help and support she needs to deal with her mental illness. Keep reaching out to places like HealthyPlace. Check out the resources page on this site to find a support group for yourself. I couldn't have made it without other wise women who were going through the same things I was. You are right to know you need to take care of yourself. Don't forget to do that every day. Don't lose hope. You have reached out to find resources for your daughter; you are finding resources for yourself. Keep doing what you're doing. You're on the right track. I'm sending good thoughts for you and your child.

October, 7 2017 at 4:19 pm

Dear Susan,
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

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 8 2017 at 6:13 pm

Hi Temmy,
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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 17 2017 at 11:08 am

Hi Temmy,
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.
Xoxo- Jess

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 23 2017 at 1:51 pm

Dear Jess,
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.

October, 3 2017 at 2:12 pm

Wish I knew what to do for my 19 year old daughter. She was admitted to the hospital today. Since she is over 18 I don’t get the same information as adolescents. I am at a loss.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 3 2017 at 3:06 pm

It's possible to still be part of her treatment team. If she's taking visitors, or will talk to her over the phone, ask her to sign a release of information. You can call the hospital and ask them to have her fill one out, too. They can always take info from you even if they can't provide you info. It's worth a try. Otherwise, always feel free to talk to your local NAMI. They are very good advocates for families of people with mental illnesses.

October, 3 2017 at 5:32 pm

I am on her list to receive information and I have gotten some information from them I just feel like I’m not going to be kept up on things. Th hospital she is at is about an hour away. She is in college about an hour and a half a way and that was the closest hospital to the school. She is allowed to make phone calls if she wants and they said the would let her know I called. As for now I guess I just wait. The visitation is on twice during the week and one time each day on Saturday and Sunday. And sorry I do not know what NAMI stands for.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 4 2017 at 5:06 pm

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. If you go to the following link, it can connect you to your local chapter:
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!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2017 at 1:18 pm

I know exactly what you mean my daughter 22 is locked up has severe bruises all over scabs on her face no rights being jabbed with needles I have asked to be more informed but still am not she has declined after being in there for 4 weeks the legal system is a joke more needs to be done for mental health and patience rights this is a living nightmare

Mother with a broken heart
September, 11 2017 at 6:21 pm

My daughter was just admitted into a facility yesterday and I too feel like the worse parent. What did I do wrong? As a child she was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, took her to see therapist but therapist was so rude and judgemental my daughter didn't want to go back. I myself ended session early because therapist was upset with my daughter because she would talk. She made no effort in trying to communicate with my daughter. She refused meds. Now we found a great therapist about to begin EMDR but my daughter flipped and now is placed in facility. I'm a hot mess. She was also date rapped about a year ago. Will EMDR work for her and will I have my baby girl back?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 12 2017 at 5:28 pm

All you can do is try! Different types of therapies work for different types of people. It really depends on the skill of the therapist, too. EMDR has worked really well for people with trauma, from what I understand, so I hope things go well for your daughter this time around!

September, 9 2017 at 7:18 pm

i want to die im 16 soon to be 17 and im just tired and depressed and feel like im gonna do something dumb one day and i dont want to but it feels like im drowning i talked to my perents about it and they dont really listen they just brush it off and tell me its no big deal and that other people have it worse and i know they do but i just cant take it anymore im just tired.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 11 2017 at 4:09 pm

Oh, Lexi, please do not hurt yourself. HealthyPlace has a resource page of places to help you here:… One of the easiest numbers to remember is: 1-800-SUICIDE.
Whatever number you choose, I want you to make a phone call right now. Right now. Tell them what's going on with you. Then, show your folks this post you sent. Tell them again what you are thinking. I'd also like you to create and sign a safety contract that promises that you will not hurt yourself, but will seek help when feelings of overwhelm threaten to drown you.…
Lexi, life will get better. I promise. Both of my daughters have contemplated suicide and both tell me all the time how grateful they are that they didn't do it. There is help out there for you. Seek it. Or, write back here--I'll be watching for you. You are precious--take care of yourself.

August, 24 2017 at 6:23 pm

I'm falling apart.My 16 year old son is being admitted inpatient Tomorrow morning to a psychiatric hospital and I'm losing it I feel like i can't breathe and the walls are closing in.I have no one to reach out to

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 24 2017 at 6:38 pm

Breathe in and breathe out, Anita. It will be okay. I remember the first time I admitted my daughter--it was horrible. I was terrified for my child, felt like a terrible parent, felt like my world was coming to an end. I know this is hard on you. But, you son will be safe. He will be in good hands. Professionals will be able to look at his situation and provide the medicine and therapy he needs to begin to give him his life back. This is a good thing. You are doing the most responsible thing you can do to help your child. My heart goes out to you as you suffer through the next few days...but, I'm also so proud of you for doing the hard things that we moms of kids with mental illness must do. Know that my thoughts are with you...and good luck to both you and your son.

Brokenhearted stepmother
August, 8 2017 at 7:12 am

My husband and I found letters notes saying my daughter wants to kill herself there was a death threat to me the stepmother I suspect she's bipolar and has Defiance disorder about every 3 months 2 months he has a breakdown she lies steals my things I had to prove to Dad that I wasn't feeling her clothes cuz that's what she was accusing me of but finally after 9 months to a year Dad and I went in her room and we found my clothes hidden so he believed me obviously after that that's really hurt me that he didn't believe me I would steal her quote she's a sofa me and several occasions we had an agreement to take her to the hospital yesterday and he backed out because she threatened to call the police and say we do drugs or whatever she could say she said and now my husband doesn't want to take her to the hospital because he's afraid that they're going to believe her and I tell him do you know how many children probably do this we were going to a children's hospital they see this everyday because they're mad that their parents are admitting them so they falsely accuse you specially at a children's hospital they see this all the time my husband refuses and I'm scared she's going to hurt herself kill herself yesterday he told me you were right we should have took her to the hospital last night all day we had plans on taking her to the hospital we were having his sister talk to her and then him and his sister come up with the plan for outpatient therapy him nor his sister know her like I do with her all the time I know her better than anybody due to the fact that I'm with her all the time her aunt is only seen her 3 times in a year and before that they had no relationship dad works all the time and I'm just that Mom so I can't do anything when I know that she needs immediate help but my husband is afraid that they're going to believe the allegations that she threatened to tell she said she tell him anything she could think of that she's being abused that we're drug addict that we both abuser and we don't take care of her Etc which is all lies and he really thinks that they're going to believe her and I told him so what we're not doing anything so let them come out and investigate but then but he won't take her his sister talked him out of it that he's been estranged from 4 years up until the last year Dayton acted but they've only seen each other twice and she doesn't know my real daughter she knows the fake daughter that's all nicey-nicey fake when she goes to her aunt's house but when she comes home from my aunt's house does nothing but dog our Aunt her cousins all of them I need some advice I would appreciate any advice I'm truly afraid that my daughter is going to commit suicide

Momma bear
August, 4 2017 at 11:48 am

I let go and let god. I really believe that the only way the creator can help you is if you put your whole trust in him! I've never been so afraid before because I don't know what will happen. I tend to
Think the worst. Drugs and alcohol I dispise and hate, but my daughter chooses to have it. I ask creator what do I do please show me and guide me. Protect her

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 6 2017 at 10:49 am

Hi Momma Bear, This is Susan Traugh, another blogger on I'm sorry to hear about your daughter and understand your fear. My daughters have been admitted several times and it can be heart-wrenching for parents to separate from their child. Do you have support for yourself? For your daughter? If you do not already have a support system, I urge you to go to the Resources here and make some calls. And, I wish the best to you and your daughter.

Patty Ann
July, 15 2017 at 7:57 am

My son was admitted this week and your experience could have been verbatim if mine. My son is still in hospital and it has made me realize the reality of the situation. I just couldn't see it until now. It's been a very painful road. But I'm grateful that he was admitted and nervous about when he is released. Thanks for your blog!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 15 2017 at 8:59 am

For me, Patty Ann, realizing my daughters' reality for a major step in getting help. Denial is such a seductive place to go. But, as difficult as it is to face the hard truth, it was my first step to freedom and hope.

Momma bear
August, 4 2017 at 11:27 am

I had to admit my daughter and I feel like

Theresa nichols
July, 14 2017 at 3:10 pm

Thankyou for sharing your story. I am at a loss right now what to do for my daughter. She is 22 I am her guardian because she has a learning disability. She is so angry lately good days then more bad days. This has been going on since she was 17. I have tried counseling no luck. Then at one point I called a helpline and they did not feel it was necessary for her to be in a hospital. Hmmm really looking around my messed up living room. I have no help with this. I feel like a prisoner I have no future

June, 29 2017 at 3:36 pm

Thank you for providing some hopeful information. Our son went in today and our heads are spinning. Thank you again.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

donna egan
July, 13 2017 at 9:22 pm

Had to leave my son last night. The look on his face was devastating. I'll never get over it. I was supposed to help him and I couldn't;(

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 15 2017 at 9:06 am

Hi Donna, This is Susan Traugh, another blogger on HealthyPlace. I remember the first time I had to leave my daughter. Two attendants were restraining her while she screamed, "Mommy, please, please don't leave me!" It was a knife in my heart...even ten years later. But, I know it was the right thing to do. Years later, my daughter and I talked about it. Her reply summed up this whole impossible situation when she said, "It was the worst thing that ever happened to me--that totally saved my life." Remember, you DID help him. You just called in the cavalry.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 14 2017 at 7:58 am

Hi Charles, I'm Susan Traugh, another blogger on HealthyPlace and the mom of two daughters with bipolar who have both been hospitalized on more than one occasion. I'm glad you found this post helpful and believe that your hopefulness is well-placed. I wish you and your son the best of luck on this journey.

Kurt Clasen
April, 25 2017 at 6:43 pm

Thank you for the article. Would it be wise to let my daughter remain in contact with other people she met while in the hospital?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 2 2017 at 1:58 pm

it might not be if that person also has overwhelming issues that may influence your daughter's already volatile situation. when my daughter went to a day program, they were against it

Dagny taggart
April, 1 2017 at 11:02 pm

Thanks foe the article. I've just experienced and am still in total shock.

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September, 24 2016 at 4:44 am

I have found this website in my search for help and support. My son is 16,almost 17,and is in a residential treatment facility for mental health. He is being treated for depression anger management and borderline personality disorder. He has expressed suicidal ideation, has cut in the past and has expressed homicidal ideation against myself his stepfather and others. His birth father exposed him to drugs and alcohol among other things when he was 13 to 16, until we found out about it and got full legal custody of him. He was supposed to come home from the residential treatment facility this past August but lied and manipulated to get his own way. He does not want to adhere to the rules we have at home , was upset that we would not let him go back to the high school he was going to( where he hang out hung out with a group of kids that cut). We had opted to send him to a smaller Charter School that would be familiar with his needs. Of course now he wants to live with his father where there are no rules and expectations and no support for his mental health treatment. The medication and treatment and counseling does not seem to be helping. The therapist recommended contacting Child Services because he won't be able to stay there much longer and he cannot return to our home out of fear and safety issues. I don't want to give up my rights as a parent but I want him to get the help he needs even if it means he is not here at home. You have expressed our desire for him to be able to control his mental illness, function as a member of society, go to school, find a job etc and he wants nothing to do with that. He has had mental health issues for most of his life but they really became evident after his father and I divorced and he was exposed to drugs and alcohol. His stepfather and I don't know where to turn or what to do. This is one of the hardest things as a parent I have had to face. I have been in touch with our local Mental Health Association and plan on going to a support group soon. It is good to know unfortunately that there are others out there struggling with the same issue.

August, 16 2016 at 8:55 pm

Hi, my name is Angelina and I'm going to be 17 this week. Ive been dealing with depression and anxiety and bipolar disorder for quite some time now. When I was younger about the age of 5 I was sexually assaulted by my father's mother's boyfriend. My parents were never together, I was older enough to know that this wasn't right. That night my mom picked me up and I told her what happened and I haven't seen my father since. He has been on and off of drugs and in and out of jail etc. He hasn't tried to see me since or even come in contact with me and doesn't even pay for child support. About a year after my mom finding this out she met a guy who turned her onto all kinds of drugs.. So I moved in with my grandmother (mom's mom) and she raised me when I didn't have a father or mother anymore. I can go on and on about the past. Well, in 7th grade I started to harm myself. Ive been in therapy know for about 8 years. Ive been on COUNTLESS medications and multiple therapists just to find out what was right for me.. I abused my medicine and tried 2 times to OD on them, tried cutting my wrists, rebelled out.. I really think I need to be checked into somewhere.. My mother has been clean for about 4 years now so I am living with her. I'm very nervous to bring up about getting checked into somewhere..She knows I am dealing with a lot of stuff ontop of my mental illnesses and I just am hopeful for the best. I really think if I don't then I'm going to keep feeling this way, alone. Really need help and advice from anybody on what I should do concerning being checked into a hospital. Thank you

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
August, 17 2016 at 5:22 am

Hi Angelina,
I'm so sorry for everything you've been through. Because there are so many aspects of your history and mental health, though, it makes it pretty complicated (still treatable, though). If you're at the place where you're seriously cutting and trying or overdose, it sounds like you should be in a hospital.
I've been on a hospital, although not the children's ward, but I have visited the children's ward and it's nicer than the adult one by quite a bit. :) It's just a place where you can be safe and get the help you need.
Years ago, I _swore_ I would _never_ go to one of those places. But, in the end, when I needed one, I needed one. And I can tell you that many people find the hospital a positive turning point in their treatment.
What I'm saying is, it doesn't have to be a scary place.
If you have multiple options for where to go, you might want to check them out ahead of time and pick the one that you want.
This doable. You can get better.
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager and "Breaking Bipolar" Author

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 14 2017 at 8:29 am

You are such a strong person for asking for help! I truly commend you for your courage.I wish my son would have done the same.
Instead, I have had to take him to the hospital multiple times for cutting, drug abuse, suicide attempts, etc. I even had to give him CPR
to save his life once and that moment has changed me as a mother and as a person forever.I will never be the same person I was before that day.
You have been through so much and you are still so young. You do have a bright future, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Please do it. As a mother, I wish my son would have asked me. I would do anything for my children. I would help them any way I could. All they have to do is tell me. Talk to me. Ask me. Something other than hurting themselves.
You have already shown courage by coming here and asking for advice. I wish you the best and I want you to know that help is out there. It may take time, but the right person or place is there to get you the help you need.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 2 2017 at 2:03 pm

Angelina, have you googled your local chapter of NAMI - the National Association for Mental Illness. They have peer groups, workshops, etc. that you will most likely find helpful.

August, 9 2016 at 4:31 am

Hello my name is Millie, I have a 16 year old daughter who is currently in a short term mental health facility. Maybe someone can help me figure out what I do next as I have no clue. I have been battling these mental health problems with her since she was 6 years old. In the beginning they told me that she was too young to be diagnosed with anything and they would not treat her, she is a normal child. They didn't see her tantrums, biting hitting kicking screaming and banging her head on the wall. Then time went on she had said her biological father sexually assaulted her, after some time and investigation with the police department she took back her accusation and the investigation stopped. I had been back and forth no one would help with her, she would grow out of it they said. At 8 years old she went to live with people we called her grandparents but we're not biologically related to her as there were services they could get her on if they had her in their care. After some trials she was finally diagnosed bipolar and had tried many meds but the best was risperdol. When she came for a visit in 2013 she begged me not to send her back with them. There were things said and done to her that were not good, she came back home to live permanently she was 13. She then told me again that her father did sexually abuse her and said she lied that he did not because she felt like a bad daughter. I started the investigation again on him and had gotten an order of protection to stay away from her. In this time my youngest daughter had said that Sheila my 16 year old had sexually assaulted her (orally). There was also an investigation going on with this. There was nothing legally done to my 16 year old then she was 14 to tell her that what she did was wrong, my youngest was living with her grandmother only because we were going through financial difficulties, we had planned on getting her back home until this happened, then I could not have my youngest in my home. There were several months that I was only able to see my youngest for short periods of time because Sheila could not be trusted. She was in and out of counseling, mental health outpatient thereopy intensive outpatient. None of these facilities had Sheila discuss what she did to her sister. After several months went by my youngest wanted to forgive Sheila(because she missed mommy and daddy). She would get to come back over now but never allowed to be alone with Sheila. Sheila has gotten older physically but still has a childlike mentality and is obsessed with sex. When we argue she has attempted to run away several times, and then when we argue she has switched from running to cutting at times been in and out of emergency holds that I force them to put her on as they don't believe she should be held because they in the ER believe her to be delightful. Because they see what she wants them to see. I have given them documentation let them know what she did to her sister, etc., and they are listening to her. At one hospital I refused to pick her up as I want her committed to get REAL help. The hospital said they would contact the police and have me charged with neglect. How am I neglecting her when I want help for her so I don't have to bury my child. Now she is in another facility on a hold for another suicide attempt and they are wanting me to pick her up on Wednesday 8/10/16 after only a few days. I am trying to get her the help she needs and I really don't want to pick her up as she will then be forgotten about again and this will all be for nothing. They say that I cannot commit her and they say that she has to agree to case management. Why does she have to agree. She's not an adult. At this point I am not going to go pick her up as this will prevent me from being a parent to my youngest and I believe they will be forced to help her. We are in MN and I would appreciate any feedback about what I could be facing by trying to force their hand at helping her. In 2 years she will be an adult and I will not be able to do anything I know how this will end, she will die or she will harm someone else and be locked up in jail. I am desperate I don't know what to do!

July, 7 2016 at 8:40 pm

Hiya Tonya am sure she won't hate you. I have just admitted my 16 year old on Monday to the mental health unit . He has been self harming and talking about suicide he even went as far to research the quickest way to die (they thinking schizophrenic or bipolar he not been proper diagnosed yet but getting treated for it) . He is getting loads of support and the proper medication in the hospital Altho at the start it was if you loved me you wouldn't leave me here, why you doing this to me, he would text me begging me to take him home. (I wanted to take him home so desperate) Now I have noticed a difference in him already after 4 days, he is opening up about things more, things he didn't want to say as he knew it was hurting me. Altho it's heart breaking to see my son in the hospital I know that without him being there he probably wouldn't be here just now ( breaks my heart to even think about) . I know it's only just the start and we have a long road ahead of us but I am finally starting to see my son coming back to his old self. Keep fighting things will get better with love and support

June, 10 2016 at 6:17 pm

I had to admit my 14 yo daughter today. She was sexually assaulted almost 2 years ago. We made it through the trial and sentencing. I thought we were on the upside of the slope. All the therapy sessions she went through did nothing for her. She is very depressed and seeks attention from the wrong people since the assault. Last night she cut herself. I knew then, as heartbreaking as it is, I needed to try to get her help. I feel guilty for admitting her. I know after hearing her answer the questions, she wouldn't be alive much longer. I keep imagining how awful it must be for her to be there. She has never been medicated for mental issues. I just hope she doesnt hate me more for sending her there.

June, 8 2016 at 6:01 pm

So many heartbreaking stories here. My heart goes out to all of you and your families.
Personally, I've been depressed since I was a child, suicidal on and off (much more in my late teen years and recently), and even slightly homicidal when I was young (fantasizing about killing my abusive parents and raising my siblings myself). I've also been very anxious since I was a child, but my mother always pushed it off as "puberty" and "mood swings". The depression manifested itself in random bouts of crying because I was just so sad but didn't know why, and those, too, were written off as puberty.
As I got older, I indulged in little self-harming behaviors before I even knew what self-harm was. Scratching at a spot in my skin until I bled, picking off freckles or moles, biting my arm.
When I was 18, I tried therapy. My therapist was a very cold person who would sit there with her computer and ask me these vague questions that made me super anxious and made my mind go completely blank, and then she'd get frustrated with me when I couldn't answer them. I dreaded going to therapy. Eventually I just stopped going altogether, but kept going to the psych LPN in the same office, who put me on so many different drugs that I don't even remember them all. None of them worked. I wasn't sleeping at night, I was working all the time and barely holding it together.
When I was 20, I moved out of my parents' house, expecting things to get better, but they didn't. One of my roommates became a moody, hostile, selfish pig, and the other was so stressed from putting up with him (they were together at the time) that she wasn't very nice either. (side note: we kicked him out and I am roommates with her to this day.)
I cried almost every night. I'd listen to comedy podcasts or watch movies in order to be able to fall asleep. I was stressed, didn't know how to handle my money, and kept having car trouble, not to mention I was working two awful jobs.
the previous fall, my best friend and the one person I felt I could really trust and belong with "broke up" with me. His reasoning didn't make sense and he didn't seem to care how this made me feel, at all.
Six months after I moved out, the pain was just too much for me. The loss of that friendship, my pain-filled childhood, my jobs, and my self-hatred. I started cutting.
I "quit" cutting a few months later, but a few months after that, I started doing it again. I "quit" again, then lo and behold, fell back into it, worse than ever. I was cutting in the bathroom just in order to get myself through the terrible work days. Or at home, in my tub, just so I could get to sleep.
I quit again, but have had a few relapses since. Today, sometimes it's hard to believe I was ever that low, but sometimes I still feel like I might end up back in that place.
I started seeing a new therapist, and she really helped me. I haven't seen her in a long time because I couldn't afford the copay or the gas to get to her office (40 minutes away, over an hour with traffic). But she helped while I was going to her. I'm more stable financially now, so I'm on the lookout for a therapist closer to home who can help me get back on track to healing.
Not all therapists are bad. If you have a bad experience, find another one. You deserve to get the help you need.
My oldest brother, two years younger than me, has schizophrenia; the second oldest has ADHD; the third, my only sister, has anorexia and depression and generalized anxiety disorder and has been hospitalized two or three times for it. She has more self-harm scars than I do, and it breaks my heart. The fourth has Down syndrome and the youngest has ADHD and possible autism. I love them all dearly but you have never met a family more fraught with chronic illness, mental or otherwise.
Anyway, the reason I found this article is I'm writing a book in which one of my main characters goes into treatment for anorexia, and I have a few questions I'm trying to get answered, but there are no stories from the actual teenagers, online. None that pop up with a Google search, anyway. Right now, I just need to know if an underage inpatient can refuse medication. If they won't stop crying for hours, can they refuse a pill or an IV to help them sleep? Does anyone know?

April, 28 2016 at 5:03 pm

Hi Danny
My 12 year old son was admitted twice now (currently he is in a mental hospital) for suicidial thoughts, self harm and, this time, attempted suicide. The first time he was admitted he was not on any meds. This time they have taken him off Zoloft and are considering bipolar as a possible diagnosis. He was already diagnosed with moderate depression and anxiety.
So, to answer your question, being on the meds is not the cause or reason for the issues or the hospitalization. My son has a therapist and a psychiatrist as well.
It is a very hard thing to deal with as a parent, especially when your child is so young. But we cannot stop trying to help. Sometimes the medications are hard to get right and this is a problem. But knowing my son wants to kill himself is so heavy and so painful as his mother.

April, 24 2016 at 11:10 am

Wow, reading all these tragic stories of children on psychiatric drugs. Makes me want to ask one question of everybody. Do you ever wonder if it was the medications that created all your kids' mental problems? If you look way back, to before they ever took their first meds. Was it only after they started taking the meds did the real serious problems surface? How many kids here needed to be committed who were NOT taking meds at the time?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 14 2017 at 9:04 am

I knew my son was "different" at age 2. I took parenting classes because I didn't know how to handle his behavior. Those classes didn't help at all. My son was still a violent, angry child.
In 1st grade, he tried to start the school on fire. He was obsessed with fire. He was harming animals and constantly acting out against me, his brother and father. When he did something wrong, my now x-husband, would take things away that he liked and when that didn't work, he would use the belt on him. I told my x that he needed help. I got him in to see countless therapists, but that didn't work either. My son just wouldn't open up. I thought he needed medication, but his father was extremely anti-meds.
When my son was caught on social media with a picture he had taken of himself snorting pills, my x said he couldn't handle it and sent him to live with me.
He skipped school, was suspended countless times again, and began self harming again and tried to commit suicide.
I got him into short term and he was put on medication. He has been to short term 6 times and is now in long term finally.
We have tried several different combinations of medications, but nothing seems to work right yet. He has seen more therapists and also a psychiatrist.He did so much before he finally was put on meds. That was my last hope, or so I thought. I'm not saying medication is the only answer. I know my son needs meds, therapy and many other things. He is bi-polar, has ADHD, is SMD, has severe depression and anxiety and the list goes on.
I'm just doing the best with what I've been dealt with. I'm here looking for help and advice too. But I KNOW that medication did not cause my son's problems. He was put on medication because of his problems. They are a last resort other than hospitalization.
We, as parents, would do anything to help our children. Normally we start with therapy.
Do you have a child with similar issues? Think about that before you judge. It doesn't sound like you have been through anything that these other parent's have been through. You don't have any sort of grasp on what we are going through or what we are trying to do to help our children.

March, 9 2016 at 3:51 am

At fifteen, my mom took me to the ER. Depression and bipolar runs in my family, so it wasn't exactly a surprise that I was suicidal, that I had given up, etc. etc. I didn't care at all, and I was presented with two options: I wasn't going home. I could be hospitalized as an inpatient, like your son, or a partial patient.
Entering there was just as depressing as being at home. The 'max security' atmosphere felt suffocating and, though I'm not really rebellious, I was very tempted to run. I could have nothing at all on my person. I could not be visited. Me and about seven other teens with problems sat in a room while different adults came in to have 'discussions'.
I know now it was group therapy. I don't know if it was because of my mental state or the people that I hated it so much. For three hours, every day, I sat in a room while different people blasted the importance of a positive attitude and expected participation. Then lunch, then another hour and a half of that, or exercise, and then I had to talk with a woman. She introduced herself as Nicki, but whether she was a counselor, a therapist, or something else she never said.
Only that, for about half an hour towards the end of my day, she expressed her disappointment in my not having participated and not showing I was better and not caring more about life and having given up and - her words, not mine - "choosing to be miserable". I was depressed, bi-polar depression, granted, but still depressed. I had a hard enough time not breaking down into tears around the other teens there. I cried in her too-hot office a lot.
During this time, my mom and I argued a lot. One-sided arguments, because she was upset I didn't want to live and I wouldn't tell her I suddenly changed my mind and was pumped about life.
I really didn't want to go there. I understand that some see it as necessary - maybe it was. But after Nicki looked me in the eye and accused me of self-harm (the rest of the building was freezing - I had the gall to wear a sweatshirt like everyone else) I didn't care what it would take to get me out.
I lied on the morning sheets I filled out. Oh, of course I didn't have suicidal thoughts! Oh, of course I had goals! Oh, of course I had never cut before! (She wouldn't have seen anything if I had taken off my sweatshirt.)
And, thankfully, after a solid week, I was discharged.
Next was therapy and psychologist visits. Marginally less painful than what I had just sat through. I was given hotline numbers (as if I would use them) for when I wanted to kill myself or wanted to self-harm. Those papers ended up in the trash as soon as I came home. When filling out paperwork, and answering the yes or no questions my mom asked as she went down the list, one of them was, naturally, 'Do you self-harm or have you in the last six months?' I told her yes, even though I was terrified to tell the truth. She was quiet, and then told me: "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," and asked the next question.
I was still depressed. I was still suicidal. I still cut. These things didn't change until I was medicated for bipolar. Even now, I struggle with being very flippant about life and suicide. I lost my appetite during that time period, and never gained it back. My mom's frustration with how little I eat is something I deal with on a near-daily basis, though my weight and BMI fall within normal categories.
That was last year, now. I hated it. This, and one other experience, has given me a strong dislike and distrust of therapists and counselors. I do still cut, but I managed to get out of having to go to therapy. I wouldn't tell my mom again, ever. Especially not after she told me she thought I was anorexic. My sister found out, and I do feel guilty for having promised her I wouldn't cut and then, well, cutting.
I admire troopers, who can keep going. But after my experience with hospitalization, and already disinclined to be talked out of harming myself, I would never be one to call 9-1-1 or walk into the ER and tell them, Hey, I slice myself open, don't eat, and want to die.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
March, 18 2016 at 8:14 am

Hi Isabelle,
My name is Natasha. I have bipolar disorder, write "Breaking "Bipolar" here and am the blog manager.
I'm not sure what to say to you. I guess what you need to know is that I've been through something similar to what you've been through. At 15 it's very hard to deal with any kind of mental illness because you're not an adult and can't make your own decisions yet. Nevertheless, professionals can still be very, very valuable. Believe me, treatment is what you need in your situation.
Don't run away from therapy. Therapy is there to help you understand what's happening and give you tools to cope with it. You cannot live a successful life without these coping tools.
As for your stint in the hospital? Well, hopefully you won't need that again, but remember -- your life is worth far more than a hospital visit.
I know you said you'd never use a helpline, but you should. You can be anonymous and they _will_listen_ to what you're going through. You don't have to call them about cutting, per se, you can call them about whatever you need to talk about.
Please don't turn your back on all that help that is being offered to you. You need it.
Here is a link to our hotlines and resources page, in case you change your mind:…
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager

February, 25 2016 at 6:33 am

A young man who is very close to me was put into a psychiatric facility last Thursday for cutting. His parents died when he was eight months old and he has been living with different family members ever since. I have not known him for very long however his story is that the caregivers were mentally abusing him. I feel so helpless because I feel the only people that are readily available to help him are actually against him. His family feel that myself and my daughter are the cause of all of the problems he is having yet the problems started before we met him. Anyone have any advice?

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