Are you wondering if your child qualifies for inpatient mental health treatment and care? Read this helpful guide to find out. Learn how to find an inpatient treatment center near you.
- What is Inpatient Mental Health Care?
- Types of Inpatient Mental Health Care
- How to Get Inpatient Treatment
- How a Child Qualifies for Inpatient Treatment
- How Do I Find the Best Inpatient Treatment Near Me?
- What is the Baker Act for Involuntary Treatment?
- What Happens to Children in Inpatient Treatment?
- What is Inpatient Treatment Like for Children and Teens?
- Can I Visit My Child in an Inpatient Treatment Program?
- What is the Cost of Inpatient Treatment?
What is Inpatient Mental Health Care?
Inpatient mental health treatment is a type of care for mental health issues that takes place in a hospital. It is usually recommended for youth with severe mental illnesses or those who are at risk of harming themselves or others.
Inpatient mental health treatment can be a good option if a youth has been hospitalized before and needs more intensive care, has been having suicidal thoughts, or has been violent with others. Inpatient treatment also may be the best option if the teen is addicted to drugs or alcohol and needs to get sober before they can participate in outpatient therapy.
Inpatient treatment is also available for children with eating disorders who need medical supervision and support.
Most inpatient treatment programs are meant to be short-term, with a common stay being up to 7 days. Some programs will allow a stay of 30 days or longer, especially those for drug and alcohol treatment and eating disorders.
Often length of stay is determined by what the insurance company determines is a needed level of treatment.
Types of Inpatient Mental Health Care
Inpatient treatment can take place on an open ward, closed ward, partial hospitalization program, day hospital program, intensive outpatient program, or residential treatment center.
Children in treatment are typically in a locked wing of the hospital for their safety and security. They are carefully supervised and monitored at all times.
How to Get Inpatient Treatment
The most common way to get inpatient treatment for your child is to take him or her to the emergency room (ER) at your local hospital, children’s hospital, or psychiatric hospital. There, the staff will evaluate your child to determine if they are in need of 24-7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week or round the clock) care and supervision.
Another way to get inpatient treatment is to call the local mental health crisis hotline in your county. Some counties offer an assessment team (either at a location you drive to or a team that comes to your home) to evaluate the situation.
Some inpatient programs, such as longer term programs or programs for eating disorders or substance abuse, have an intake interview and paperwork process.
Occasionally the police or EMTs will suggest evaluation for inpatient care when they come to your home for a 911 call. Only call 911 if you or your child are in immediate danger.
How a Child Qualifies for Inpatient Treatment
Because inpatient care is one of the most acute and intensive forms of care, it is reserved for children who have the highest need. Typically, inpatient care is for children who are in danger of harming themselves or others.
Here are reasons for inpatient mental health treatment:
Inpatient mental health treatment is usually recommended for children and teens who:
- Have suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
- Pose a threat to themselves or others.
- Experience hallucinations, delusions, or out-of-control thoughts.
- Have difficulty caring for themselves.
- Have an addictive disorder and/or a mental health disorder.
- Require extensive monitoring or help managing medication.
Here are some of the disorders that lead parents to seek inpatient care for their children:
- eating disorders
- Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) with immediately urgent out of control behaviors
- Autism, ASD, or Asperger’s with immediately urgent out of control behaviors – click here for more specific help for inpatient treatment for autism
- drug and alcohol abuse
How Do I Find the Best Inpatient Treatment Near Me?
To find the best treatment near you, read reviews of mental health inpatient settings that are available. Because treatment can be hard to find and fund, you may be limited in options by what your insurance will pay for and where a bed is available.
As always, every parent is the best advocate for their child’s care, so don’t give up on researching the treatment that is best for your child.
What is the Baker Act for Involuntary Treatment?
The Baker Act is a law in Florida state that allows people to be detained for their own safety for mental health reasons.
Other states have similar laws that allow involuntary commitment for mental health reasons. These are sometimes called a 72-hour hold, although the length of stay varies among states.
What is the Marchman Act vs. the Baker Act? The Baker Act allows someone to be detained for treatment for mental health reasons while the Marchman Act allows involuntary commitment for substance abuse reasons.
According to UFHealth.org,
These states allow for involuntary commitment for mental health or substance abuse reasons:
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Other states have similar measures such as these:
- California – 5150 (72-hour hold)
- Pennsylvania – 302 (5-day hold)
- Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky – Casey’s Law
- New Jersey – Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT)
- New York – Kendra’s Law
Click here to read more about involuntary commitment in your state.
In the case of a minor, parents have the right to make medical decisions in the best interest of the child, although it varies by state at what age teens can make their own medical decisions. Children are considered able to make their own medical decisions around puberty, starting at ages 12-14 years old.
What Happens to Children in Inpatient Treatment?
Inpatient treatment is most often meant to be a short-term solution to provide immediate care and crisis management. Some of the things that happen during inpatient treatment for children include:
- Psychiatric evaluation – A resident psychiatrist interviews the child (and often the parents) and makes a determination of diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Medication management and adjustments – Medications may be added, removed, or dosage may be adjusted to provide stabilization.
- Psychotherapy – The child will attend therapy individually, in a group, or both, to learn coping skills.
- Family therapy – The family may attend therapy together or the therapist may speak to parents separately.
- Social worker guidance to further help or community services – Since the length of stay is meant to be short, a social worker will guide the family to further resources, either longer-term residential treatment or community resources.
What is Inpatient Treatment Like for Children and Teens?
Children in an inpatient unit follow a structured routine for their days. They are supervised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They eat meals, attend individual and group therapy and have recreation time such as outside play, video games, or TV and movie time. They may be in their own room or may share a room with another child or teen.
Some situations have a small school setting where children attend for a few hours of instruction per day.
Children in residential settings often are allowed to have their own personal items. In inpatient treatment, youth may bring a few things like clothing or a special blanket or stuffed animal, but most do not have many personal belongings. Belongings will be screened for safety concerns, such as removing ties from clothing. Do not send any items that are valuable since they may not be returned.
Can I Visit My Child in an Inpatient Treatment Program?
Most inpatient treatment allows visitors but there may be restrictions.
Visiting hours may be at a set time each day. Visits may be supervised and take place in a visiting room. Siblings may or may not be allowed to attend. Food may be brought to visits so that the family can share a meal or snack together.
Visits can be an emotional time for both the parent and child. Parents miss their child very much and are concerned about them, yet tensions are high. Bringing a snack, memento from home, or game to play together can help ease the tension.
During inpatient treatment, family is an vital source of support yet can also be a source of stress for a child who is trying to stabilize their mental health.
Phone calls with family members are typically allowed although they may be monitored due to the child’s mental stability.
What is the Cost of Inpatient Treatment?
Inpatient treatment typically costs $500-1,000 per day. Treatment is covered by insurance and Medicaid.
With these resources, you’ll be able to determine if your child needs inpatient treatment, how to find the best mental health treatment near you, and next steps to give your child the greatest possible chance for future success.
Do you have a question about inpatient treatment not addressed here? Share it in the comments below.
Has your child had inpatient treatment? Was it helpful? Tell us about your experience in the comments.