Treatment in a psychiatric hospital or residential treatment program may be necessary when children pose a danger to themselves or others. Your child may be admitted if other kinds of treatment are not available or would not work well for the child.
In this type of program, your child receives 24-hour care by mental health professionals and healthcare providers. Children are treated in a secure (locked) facility. Hospitals generally have separate units for children (preschool to about age 12) and teens (12 to 18). Both units are generally separate from mentally ill adults.
Inpatient psychiatric treatment may be voluntary if the parent or guardian agrees. It may also be ordered by the court if a mental health professional certifies that the child needs treatment.
The main role of inpatient treatment is to provide a safe place where your child can be assessed and treated.
Assessment may include asking you about your child's:
Once your child's mental health problems have been diagnosed they can be treated. Treatment may include:
You can help make your child's treatment more effective. Asking the following questions may help you feel more comfortable:
Your child's length of stay depends on the severity of your child's behaviors and symptoms and how they respond to treatment. Your child may be in the hospital for only 2 to 3 days or may need to stay 7 to 10 days. Some children may need to stay in the hospital even longer.
Family patterns often need to change. This helps make sure that children remain stable when they return home. You may also be asked to:
Contact organizations such as:
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
Web site: http://www.NAMI.org
Mental Health America
Web site: http://www.NMHA.org