For youth struggling with mental health disorders, an age-appropriate treatment facility is advised. Adolescent mental health facilities are recommended for teenagers struggling with ADHD, depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, and other mental health related problems. Read on to learn more.
Mental health disorders are on the rise, particularly in youth. Each year, it is estimated that 1 in 6 youth between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder. Amid the recent pandemic, however, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 1 in 3 teenagers experienced mental health problems, and 50 percent experienced persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. And this is just the beginning. According to data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-18 in the United States.
While these are harrowing statistics, they are also eye-opening. As much as society might avoid conversations about mental illness, the reality is that it is all around us. Neighbors, friends, siblings, children, students, patients, and loved ones may all be impacted by mental illness in some way. If you have a teenager who is struggling with their mental health, know that you are not alone.
As a parent, the best thing you can do for your teenager is seek out professional support. A clinical professional, whether that be your pediatrician or a licensed therapist, will be able to diagnose your child’s condition and determine the best course of treatment, based on his or her needs. While this professional may refer you to possible facilities, it is important to do your research.
More than likely, you want to find the best possible mental health facility for your adolescent. However, at the same time, you may be feeling overwhelmed with worry and concern—not to mention the many options available. How can you possibly make an informed decision regarding your teen’s treatment?
This guide is your toolkit. Here, we will address the top principles of mental health treatment for teens, and how to find the right adolescent mental health facility for your loved one.
Key Principles of Adolescent Mental Health Treatment
What are some of the best indicators of a reputable mental health treatment provider? Look for the following characteristics of an adolescent mental health facility.
- Treatment programs are specific to each client’s age and gender.
Adolescents are at a unique period of development. They are in the midst of dynamic, neurological changes along with big physical transformations, too. For this reason, it is important to ensure you choose a facility that focuses primarily on adolescent demographics. Choose a facility that has experienced staff, specially trained in treating adolescent mental health disorders, and who are familiar with the best therapies for adolescents struggling.
You will also want to choose an adolescent mental health facility that offers gender-specific care. At this stage of development, adolescents will find more comfort – and in turn, more success – in treatment programs where they are surrounded by peers of the same gender.
- Treatment is tailored to the unique needs of each adolescent.
Mental health treatment is not one-size-fits-all. The right treatment program will assess your teenager’s individual needs from top to bottom, taking into consideration their mental health, physical health, social life, psychological development, academic standings, family relationships, and more.
- The facility treats the whole individual, not just the disorder.
While mental health disorders should be effectively treated, the best facilities will understand that mental health is not one-dimensional. Oftentimes, mental illnesses co-occur with other struggles, such as substance dependence, poor academic performance, and illicit or unwanted behaviors. A great treatment program will address all of these needs, in order to position a teen for success.
- Evidence-based behavioral therapies are utilized.
Adolescents are often resistant to treatment, and sometimes unaware that they need help. For this reason, certain behavioral therapies are recommended to engage and connect with each teen. These types of therapies work to uncover the root of one’s struggles, develop healthy coping mechanisms, improve problem-solving skills, facilitate better relationships, and strengthen a teen’s motivation to grow.
- Treatment involves family members.
Research shows that adolescents with strong connections to their family are less likely to engage in violent behaviors, to internalize disorders, and to attempt suicide. Family therapy, therefore, is often adopted in adolescent mental health facilities as a way to connect (or reconnect) teenagers with their loved ones. Adolescents who receive positive support from their family often have the best recovery outcomes.
- Delicate topics like suicide and child abuse are addressed.
Histories of trauma are a leading cause of mental health problems in young people, which often involves physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Further, suicide is a common outcome among teenagers who do not address their mental health struggles. For these reasons, a good mental health facility will be able to appropriately attend to delicate cases and openly discuss topics relating to these matters.
- Long-term care is prioritized.
While there is no, single length of treatment that works for everyone, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that longer stays in substance use treatment (a type of mental health treatment) are associated with better outcomes for adolescents. Specifically, “Studies show outcomes are better when a person stays in treatment for 3 months or more.”
- A safe, comfortable, and creative environment is provided.
At the end of the day, it is important for your teenager to want to engage in their treatment program. It is important that your teenager feels comfortable while in the facility, and that he or she feels supported by those in the treatment community. Make sure you choose an adolescent mental health facility that offers at 24/7 network of support staff, clinicians, and mentors who will be available to your teen in times of need. Further, evaluate the environment of the facility to ensure your teen will feel comfortable in – as well as inspired by – the setting. A treatment setting that is comforting, supportive, and set up for success can motivate a person to engage in their recovery.
- Residential treatment options are available.
Residential treatment facilities are highly recommended for teenagers battling a mental health disorder. Also called inpatient treatment facilities, these residential programs require that adolescents live at the facility in which they are receiving therapy. This has many benefits.
Residential treatment centers offer youth 24/7 watchful care, structured daily routines, a regular cadence of therapy sessions, academic tutoring services, and long-term treatment options for adolescents struggling with a range of mental health disorders. These include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress, and eating disorders. Residential treatment also provides access to a community of mentors and peers who are on a similar journey, which can provide extremely beneficial for young people.
Choosing the Right Adolescent Mental Health Facility
As you research prospective facilities for your teen, ask the following questions:
- Does the facility specialize in adolescent mental health treatment, or does it work with clients of all ages?
- Does the facility offer gender-specific programs, to help my teen feel more comfortable?
- Does the program offer individualized treatment plans, tailored to each client’s needs?
- Will the facility take into consideration all the needs of my teenager, including academics?
- Does the facility utilize evidence-based treatment approaches for adolescents, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
- Will the facility allow me (the parent) to be a part of the treatment plan?
- Does the facility have long-term and residential programs available?
- Will my teenager feel comfortable and supported during their stay in this facility?
Checking off these boxes can help ensure that you are choosing the best possible facility available.
Finding Adolescent Mental Health Treatment
For mental health disorders, early intervention and evidence-based treatment are always recommended. Without these, it puts youth at serious risk for other complications. As cited by the NAMI, untreated mental and behavioral health disorders are associated with family dysfunction, school expulsion, poor school performance and disconnection from school, juvenile incarceration, substance use disorder, unemployment, and suicide.
Get your loved one the help that he or she needs and deserves. Find an adolescent mental health facility that can support your child’s needs and help him or her on the road to recovery.
If you would like to learn about Turnbridge, a leading mental health treatment provider for adolescents in Connecticut, do not hesitate to reach out. Call 877-581-1793 to speak with a treatment specialist.