CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Hormones aren’t the only thing that can affect your teen’s mental well-being. The added stresses of school, social media, competitive sports and exposure to illicit drugs can create a tailspin many parents aren’t prepared to handle.
“The cause of a mental health crisis can be numerous, such as a newly developed psychiatric disorder, exacerbation of an existing disorder or exposure to trauma,” said Dr. Kenny Hirschi, a board-certified psychiatrist and the medical director of Vive Adolescent Care in St. George. “It’s important to remember that no one is immune to having a mental health crisis and it’s becoming increasingly common, especially among our younger population.”
How can parents identify a mental health crisis, and what steps can they take?
A mental health crisis, as defined by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is any situation where a person’s behavior puts them at risk of harming themselves or others and prevents them from caring for themselves or functioning properly. Many warning signs take place prior to a mental health crisis.
Stuart Squires, a licensed clinical social worker and the clinical director at Vive, said looking for both significant and moderate changes in behavior is key. Acting out physically or sexually, crying spells, limited ability to express frustration and declining school grades – anything that isn’t characteristic of your child’s normal behavior – can all raise red flags that indicate help is needed.
Other signs include social withdrawal, not talking openly to parents, isolation, using substances and excessive social media and/or video game consumption.
“If a teen is talking with you as a parent, that’s a good sign and they can be easily connected to resources when they’re in need,” Squires said. “To me, it’s a bigger warning sign when they aren’t talking or connecting with you because you’re left with a lot of unknowns.”
While identifying warning signs can assist in kids receiving help sooner, other mental health crises may occur without warning. Unpredictable, life-changing events such as a breakup or failing a test they studied hard for can trigger an emotional downward spiral.
On the upside, simple things such as everyday routines can make a significant difference. Having breakfast together, spending 10 minutes talking and sharing a meal each night can lay the groundwork for communication. When lines of communication are open and kids feel safe and comfortable sharing, they are more likely to share again in a time of crisis.
Hirschi said if a child is a danger to themselves or others, parents should intervene and seek help immediately. Otherwise, the problem does not resolve itself without significant negative residual effects on the family and the child. That’s when the diverse treatment from Vive becomes essential.
Vive works primarily with youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who struggle with suicidal tendencies, self-harm, high levels of anxiety and depression and other moderate to severe mental health issues. They provide intensive treatment options that include hospital-based care, inpatient care, short-term residential care and partial hospitalization. They also aid patients with the transition to outpatient services once they are stabilized.
Their three-step approach maximizes treatment while minimizing the need for long-term residency. A diverse treatment plan allows each child to grow and heal at their own pace while feeling comfortable at each level of care they’re receiving. Each treatment effectively stabilizes, assesses and treats youth during their stay.
As an insurance-based facility, Vive aims to remove the added stress and barrier of affordability. They believe that every person who seeks care should have access.
“We don’t want to add a financial crisis on top of a mental crisis,” Squires said. “If you have insurance, we work with it.”
In addition to their insurance-based treatment programs, they also offer a variety of alternative and innovative treatments such as ketamine therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
As health care providers in a family-like setting, Vive has come together to provide lifesaving care in one unique, comfortable and continuous environment. That means no gaps, no lapses in treatment and no one left wondering what’s next. Their mission is to provide in-crisis youth with short-term, innovative and individualized medical and clinical treatment while offering safety, stability and renewed hope for patients and their families.
Get clarity on mental health recommendations by taking a five-minute assessment on the Vive Adolescent Care website.
Written by JESSI BANG for St. George News.
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