web analytics
Skip to main content

We may be in the midst of a teen mental health crisis. Teens are experiencing unprecedented rates of anxiety and depression, both of which continue on a steady climb, while information about available mental health resources – like finding a suitable outpatient or residential teen mental health program – appears to lag behind.

It’s important to know how to identify that your teen may need help – and recognize what kind of help might be best for them.

Does Your Teen Need Mental Health Treatment?

A teen mental health program can become relevant for teens when their emotional state and behaviors begin to negatively impact their lives, to the degree that they repeatedly struggle to stay out of trouble at home or at school.

Teen mental health programs are also important to consider when a teen is badly hurt or even hospitalized as a result of actions that they do not appear to be able to control, whether it’s a self-destructive tendency, an extreme attraction to risk, or other forms of volatile behavior.

A teen might see a therapist after the death of their loved one, especially if their grief has been as severe on the hundredth day as on the first. But they won’t necessarily be referred to a teen treatment program unless a thorough mental assessment first determines a likely diagnosis.

It is a mistake to try and diagnose your teen yourself or indulge in what they think they might have. Symptoms of major depression and anxiety can often mask a different mood disorder or something else entirely, like a personality disorder.

Psychiatrists and trained doctors utilize different behavioral tests and one-on-one assessments to help understand and determine a teen’s troubles, and formulate an individual treatment plan that takes their circumstances into account.

What Does a Teen Mental Health Program Look Like?

A teen mental health program is a dedicated therapeutic plan developed by mental health professionals with the aim of addressing a teen’s individual circumstances on a biopsychosocial level – meaning their home life, physical conditions and medical history, social experiences at school and/or work, and significant risk factors, in addition to their mood and mental health history, comorbid conditionscurrent medications, and past treatment plans.

Teen mental health programs usually entail different levels of care. For example, an intensive inpatient program will often include a holistic approach that combines traditional psychotherapy with other treatment modalities, such as animal-assisted therapy, experiential therapy, and treatment-resistant modalities such as EMDR or nerve stimulation, all while providing room and board for teens in treatment.

In other words: teen mental health treatment programs come in different levels, and treatment is prescribed as per a teen’s situation, whether a thorough assessment finds that they’re diagnosed with multiple different mental health issues or a single diagnosis with severe symptoms.

Attributes of a Good Teen Mental Health Program

There are several components to a good teen mental health program. These include:

  • Complete care. Mental health programs are not solely to address a teen’s textbook symptoms. Doctors work with each other to identify all of the factors that are negatively affecting a teen’s thoughts and behavior, including their diagnosis, to create better outcomes.
  • Age-specific programming. Teens and children require different contexts and different forms of care from adults. The symptoms of certain disorders, such as PTSD, are different in teens versus adults. Age-specific programming, including age-specific treatment groups, ensures that teen patients receive tailored treatment.
  • Family involvement. More often than not, teens continue to be shaped by the actions and influences of their parents, even more so than their peers. Ensuring that parents or other family members understand the role they play in and outside of treatment helps create a better environment for teens to return to after their program ends.
  • Evidence-based treatment. Some programs incorporate other elements of care, including spiritual or faith-based care, whether in their therapy sessions or as part of the overarching theme of their clinic. But all good mental health programs must rely on a core of evidence-based treatments, including proven psychotherapy methods, alternative treatment methods with a robust body of work, and appropriately approved medications.
  • Assessment and reassessment of outcomes. Good treatment programs and clinics emphasize rigorous testing and evaluation of their methods and outcomes, whether through testimonials or outside reviews. Look for treatment providers who are proud of their reputation and openly allow former clients to talk about their treatment methods and staff. Avoid clinics that promote secrecy or are hesitant to reveal details about how they treat patients.
  • Individualized care. In addition to complete care, a good teen mental health program champions individualized care – every patient receives the treatment they need, with a treatment plan that is formulated for them after their initial assessment and is adjusted as needed.  
  • And more. Mental health treatment can be complex, and treatment facilities can differ in the modalities and specializations that they offer. Some treatment centers focus on addiction or trauma-related illnesses. Some only cater to teens, creating an environment specifically to help adolescent patients. Some treatment centers focus on providing care to women.

While the core tenets of most teen mental health programs are the same, they offer different levels of care to address patients with different needs. Some patients only need a structured treatment plan that asks them to come to see a professional twice a week and complete certain exercises at home.

Other plans are more rigorous or even require teens to live out on a special compound, such as a residential setting or a psychiatric hospital. These levels of care can generally be differentiated as either outpatient care or inpatient care, with varying degrees of intensity.

What Happens After Treatment?

For most teens, going through a mental health program for the first time is just the beginning of a long road. Most clinics and facilities emphasize that they are a stepping stone for long-term mental health treatment – some people require a lifetime of support through medication and different forms of therapy to mediate severe symptoms and function independently. Some people can bring their mental health condition into “remission” and lead a long and fulfilling life with minimal flare-ups, as long as they continue to take care of their stress and mental well-being. Some people experience a resurgence of symptoms and need an intensive care program before they can control their symptoms and live on their own again.

Your teen’s level of care, and the care they might need going forward, will differ from their peers even with the same diagnosis. Some cases are more severe than others, and some teens require different forms of support than others. But it’s important never to give up and to embrace the fact that we all need help, one way or the other.

For more information about enrolling in a residential treatment center for teens, contact Visions Treatment Centers today.

Leave a Reply