Helping Youth in Crisis

Youth in crisis are often facing difficult situations. They are often battling feelings of depression and hopelessness. They may also be engaging in self-harm or having suicidal thoughts.

Biological factors, such as hormonal changes during adolescence and life events, like the death of a loved one or divorce can trigger a teen’s mental health crisis.

1. Comprehensive Mental Health Assessment

Unlike adults, youth in crisis often don’t have access to high-quality, culturally responsive mental health services. When they encounter a mental health crisis, they’re likely to be evaluated in medical emergency rooms and adult psychiatry settings that are neither safe nor appropriate for them.

Mental health assessments include an initial consultation, a psychological evaluation, and a series of clinical interviews designed to explore thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in greater depth. These assessments can be conducted in a variety of settings, including clinics, school offices, and community-based treatment programs.

Personalized treatment planning: By gathering detailed information about an individual, assessment results help healthcare professionals develop customized treatment plans that consider each person’s specific needs and circumstances. For example, the KADS (Kids’ Adolescent Depression Scale) is an easy-to-administer questionnaire that assesses depressive symptoms in children and adolescents. Individuals who score high on this test can be referred for a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation by a qualified child and adolescent psychiatrist.

2. Intensive Outpatient Therapy

Intensive outpatient therapy programs are designed to help even the most struggling teenagers get the treatment they need without leaving home. These programs offer a more flexible schedule, so you don’t have to worry about missing work or school.

This type of program can help if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, mood swings, substance use, or other mental health symptoms. It’s also a good option if you have a family and other responsibilities that make it difficult to spend 30 days in residential or inpatient treatment.

Intensive outpatient treatment can help you cope with your mental and emotional problems and learn healthy coping mechanisms that can be applied to daily life. In addition to traditional therapy sessions, intensive outpatient programs also include alternative therapies like art therapy, music therapy, and adventure therapy. This can help you connect with your therapist in new ways and develop new skills that you can use throughout your recovery journey.

3. Inpatient Treatment

If a person is struggling with severe mental illness or addiction they might need to stay in a treatment facility for their own safety and that of others. Inpatient treatment programs provide 24/7 access to medical help and care and are designed for people with more serious issues that cannot be treated in outpatient settings.

Residential treatment facilities (RTF) are live-in mental health programs that offer a structured environment and a full schedule of clinical and experiential therapy. They are a good option for youth with severe behavioural problems or co-occurring mental and physical health issues.

Teens in an RTF have private bedrooms and attend a school on campus. Most of the best residential treatment programs routinely work with the nation’s top healthcare insurance providers and can get large portions of a teen’s treatment covered. This is important because paying out-of-network fees can be very expensive. Getting the right level of treatment is critical to a teen’s long-term recovery and health.

4. Support Groups

For teens in crisis, peer-to-peer support groups are an excellent source of strength and comfort. These group therapy programs bring together people with similar experiences and problems, allowing members to learn from each other’s successes and failures. This is especially helpful for teen-specific issues like bullying, self-harm, depression and family dynamics.

A skilled facilitator can put newcomers to ease and set a tone for productive group discussion. Whether it’s an experienced therapist or volunteer, they know how to encourage participants to share their feelings and experiences. They also enforce time limits to prevent someone from monopolizing the conversation.

Support groups can be ongoing or restricted to specific periods of time, such as a six-week, twice-yearly program for people who have lost a loved one through suicide. Some support groups may also feature guest speakers, such as doctors, therapists and specialists, to help educate the group on particular topics. Affiliating with a larger organization can give the group more credibility and help establish a framework for success.