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What Happens in the ER When Your Child’s Mental Health is in Crisis?

You’re terrified and unsure of what else to do – your child’s mental health has reached a crisis point, and you feel you have no choice but to enlist in the care of emergency psychiatric treatment for your child. As you drive to the emergency room, a whirlwind of questions floods your mind: What will happen when we arrive? How can the doctors help when we’ve already tried so much? Will they question my parenting abilities? What role will I even play in all this?

Take a deep breath. The emergency room is equipped and staffed to handle crises and is ready to provide emergency psychiatric care for your child. You are a crucial part of your child’s care team, and seeking emergency help does not label you as an unfit parent. While it will likely be stressful, you’re in the right place to get your child the intensive, immediate support they need. Know that there are always options and paths forward, even in your darkest moments of despair.

Seeking Emergency Psychiatric Treatment for Your Child

As a parent, you’ll likely have many questions about what happens once you walk through those doors and throughout the emergency room visit. It is essential to understand the process and what to expect so you come into the emergency room as prepared as possible. While each hospital may have slight variations in its protocols, the following is a general overview of what might happen during your visit:

Evaluation and Triage

When you first arrive, your child will undergo a check-in process, during which a nurse will evaluate their vital signs. Additionally, they may undergo blood tests or other medical exams to rule out any physical causes of their symptoms. Following this, a psychiatrist will meet with you to discuss your child’s symptoms, medical history, and current medications. The evaluation typically lasts a few hours and involves an assessment of your child’s mental state. Based on this evaluation, the best treatment option for your child will be determined, which may include medication, therapy, or hospitalization.

Collaborative Decision-Making

Once the evaluation is complete, the medical team will discuss the best course of action with you. This collaborative decision-making process ensures you actively determine your child’s most appropriate treatment plan. The team may recommend inpatient psychiatric care, outpatient services, or a combination of both, depending on the severity of the situation.

Mental Health Treatment Options

If hospitalization is needed, your child will be admitted to the psychiatric unit, where they will remain under constant supervision. Medications and therapy are commonly used to stabilize patients. Once your child’s condition improves, the medical team will likely recommend outpatient treatment options such as counseling, medication management, and skills training. This approach allows your child to return home while still receiving necessary care for their mental health, offering flexibility to families but requiring diligent follow-up for effectiveness.

Your Role as a Parent During the Process

As a parent, your unwavering commitment to your child’s well-being will help create a sense of security and trust, fostering a positive environment for their recovery. To further enhance the results of the emergency room trip, we recommend the following:

Be Honest and Thorough

When the doctors ask questions about your child’s symptoms, medical history, family history, school performance, social interactions, and home behaviors, it’s crucial to be as honest and detailed as possible, as any relevant details will assist the doctors in gaining insight into your child’s condition. The more the doctors understand your child’s situation, the better they can determine appropriate next steps.

Stay Calm and Reassuring

It’s natural for your child to feel scared and confused. Sit beside them, hold their hand, and speak gently and soothingly. Reassure them that you and the doctors are available to assist them and that seeking help is a sign of strength. Your support and presence can alleviate their anxiety and make the experience less distressing.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask the doctors any questions you may have about your child’s condition, prognosis, or next steps in their treatment plan. Make sure you understand the discharge instructions before leaving. Ask if there are any signs or symptoms you should watch for that mean your child needs to return to the ER. Knowledge is power – the more you understand, the better equipped you’ll be to care for your child after discharge properly.

Remind Yourself: You’re Not a Bad Parent

Many parents feel like failures when they have to take their child to the ER for psychiatric reasons. But seeking emergency help is often a responsible and life-saving decision. The doctors and staff know that mental health issues can affect any family – their goal is to provide treatment and resources, not pass judgment. You’re doing the best you can in a difficult situation. Forgive yourself and focus on your child’s well-being. Staying involved in the process and advocating for your child will help ensure the best possible outcome. You should feel empowered rather than ashamed – getting emergency psychiatric help is an act of love.

Potential Next Steps After Leaving the ER

After your child has received medical clearance and has been stabilized, and their symptoms have improved to a point where they are no longer an immediate danger to themselves or others, it’s important to recognize that the emergency room is not a permanent solution. Rather, it’s essential to investigate ongoing treatment options to address the root causes of the mental health crisis.

Discharge and Follow-Up

The priority is to ensure your child receives proper follow-up care immediately. Be sure to connect with recommended resources and professionals. In this case, they will likely refer you to resources for follow-up care within one to three days, such as:

  • Scheduling an appointment with your child’s primary care physician or therapist
  • Contacting a mental health crisis hotline for additional support
  • Researching intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), or specialized treatment programs in your area

Inpatient Hospitalization

If your child’s condition remains unstable, the doctor may recommend inpatient hospitalization for stabilization and intensive treatment. This means your child will be admitted to the psychiatric unit of a hospital, where they’ll receive intensive treatment and monitoring 24/7 under the care of a psychiatrist, nurses, and counselors. The goal is to stabilize symptoms quickly through various therapies and medication as needed. On average, hospitalization may last three to seven days.

Ongoing Support for Your Child’s Mental Health

Once your child is discharged, it is paramount to continue with outpatient care. This will help your child to improve and maintain their mental health and well-being. Suffolk DBT offers effective teen mental health support in Manhattan through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and mindfulness-based treatments. It is important to remember that mental health issues can be lifelong, but with proper treatment and a robust support system, people of all ages can lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Suffolk DBT’s Commitment to Teen Mental Health Support in Manhattan

We at Suffolk DBT understand the difficulties faced by families who require emergency psychiatric treatment for their children in Manhattan. Our goal is to provide excellent mental health treatment and assistance to teenagers. Our team of experienced professionals ensures that every child receives the care and attention they deserve. We acknowledge the importance of a holistic approach to mental health care and are here to support you and your child every step of the way.

Give Your Child the Support They Need

As a parent in crisis, bringing your child to the ER for emergency psychiatric help is a tough decision. Fortunately, the medical professionals and staff are dedicated to providing empathetic care for your child and supporting you during this challenging period. Although the assessment and stabilization process may seem daunting, seeking help was the right choice. Your current role involves offering comfort to your child, responding to inquiries truthfully, and collaborating with the doctors to determine the next steps for treatment.

An ER visit often marks the beginning of the journey to wellness. You and your child can navigate this difficult time with proper follow-up care and family support. Once your child is discharged, Suffolk DBT’s proficient therapists are ready to assist. We offer tailored outpatient DBT programs for childrenteens, and their families to enhance the coping strategies and tools acquired during their hospitalization.

The path forward won’t always be easy, but professional support and resources can help you navigate this challenging time. Suffolk DBT is committed to supporting you through each stage of your child’s treatment and recovery.

If you or your child are in immediate crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out to your local emergency services or a helpline specific to your region. For more information about Suffolk DBT’s mental health support services for teens in Manhattan, please visit our website or contact us directly.

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