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Summer Solstice 2024

Navigating the Mental Health Crisis in Young Adults

Summer Solstice 2024 Friday, June 21, 2024. Learn More

September 18, 2019

When to Consider Psychiatric Residential Treatment

Your child’s mental health journey might begin as soon as they set foot onto their college campus. The first year of college is packed with new experiences, as your child will be off on their own, maybe even for the first time. Big life changes such as college could prompt those predisposed to them to experience a psychotic episode and your child might experience major depression, bipolar disorder or other underlying medical issues.

Your child might try therapy, medicine and self-help techniques as a first defense in combating mental illness. However, if they are not able to manage symptoms on their own, they have three additional options as a next step: outpatient care, inpatient care or a residential community.

Outpatient care and inpatient care for mental health are like what you would experience if you went to a doctor’s office or a hospital for a physical illness. Inpatient care is for those who require constant supervision to manage the symptoms of their mental illness, and is commonly quite brief and oriented towards resolving an emergency, rather than helping someone cope with their illness.

Outpatient care does not involve overnight stays and is most often employed for those with mild symptoms; it includes group therapy and often necessitates familial involvement since your child still spends most of their life outside of the program.

Residential treatment programs fall somewhere in between outpatient and inpatient. They are often more intensive programs like inpatient care, but allow patients more independence, similar to outpatient care.

Signs Your Child Needs a Residential Treatment Program

Residential treatment programs are often used for patients who require a step above outpatient care or need more tools to ease back into their routines after inpatient care.

Consider a residential treatment program when your child’s mental illness is not manageable through therapy, medication and self-help techniques, and has gotten to a point at which they need a level of supervision you cannot provide. Those who enter residential treatment programs do not need to be monitored constantly, but they do need to have more immediate access to mental health care, which typically cannot be provided at home.

While residential treatment programs require overnight stays, residents have the freedom to participate in activities and field trips. They might have jobs within the residential program, eat with friends within the community and engage in group therapy or go on walks. If your child is in college, all of these types of interactions can help them return to school mentally and emotionally prepared.

What to Look for in a Residential Treatment Program

Effective residential treatment programs create an individual treatment plan, which should include therapeutic offerings and a transition plan to get your child out of the residential facility in a timely manner while allowing enough time to heal and recover with the tools they need for success in college and beyond. A daily routine can help your child handle their mental health symptoms and, as they progress through their residential treatment program, this stability creates a long-term positive impact on their lives.

As a part of their daily schedules, residents should contribute to the community in some way, inspiring a sense of pride when they accomplish a task. Some therapeutic communities choose to work with outside businesses or nonprofits whereas others engage residents in meaningful work right on campus.

The primary difference between a residential treatment program and an inpatient program is social isolation; this is where residential treatment programs excel. These programs allow your child to be surrounded by staff who care about their wellbeing and peers who are experiencing similar mental health issues.

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