Raising Troubled Kids: Practical Help for Parents of Children or Teens with Mental Illness

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A crisis plan will help you by listing the steps to take and people to contact if things do get out of control. Exposure therapy: Is a type of therapy often used to treat anxiety disorders and phobias. It helps young people with strategies to manage their fears and worries in an effort to lower their level of distress when they encounter them. During exposure therapy the therapist will work with your child and gradually expose them to the thoughts, feelings, memories, things or situations that make them excessively anxious or worried. As their anxiety increases the therapist talks with your child about their fear and provides them with support, as well as, strategies for example deep breathing exercises to deal with their fear and help them to calm down.

The hope is that eventually the fear will be reduced or eliminated and your child will have developed coping strategies to deal with whatever level of anxiety they may experience. Family Therapy: is a type of psychological counseling designed to help improve the way a family functions together. During treatment, a therapist will work with your family to improve your communication, relationships and help you to reduce and resolve conflicts within your home.

Family therapy is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist. Group Therapy — Group therapy is a form of treatment where a small group of people with similar challenges meets regularly to talk, and discuss issues with each other and the group leader usually a therapist. The general purpose of Group Therapy is to create a safe and comfortable place where participants can work out problems and emotional issues, gain insight into their own thoughts and behavior, and offer suggestions and support to others.

Young people who have difficulty with friendships or other relationships can often benefit from the social interactions that are a basic part of group therapy. The services provided in your home will be individually designed for your child and family and will focus on helping you and your child deal with specific behaviors or problems.

Examples of the types of services that may be provided include: mental health therapy, crisis intervention and other support services needed by the family. The goal of home-based services is to prevent your child from being placed outside of the home. Independent Living Services: Support for a young person living on his or her own. These services include therapeutic group homes, supervised apartment living, and job placement. Support services are provided to teach youth how to handle financial, medical, housing, transportation, and other daily living needs, as well as providing assistance to the young people as they learn how to live and get along with others.

Individual Therapy : Also sometimes called psychotherapy or counseling. During individual therapy children and youth work one-on-one with a trained therapist to explore their feelings, behaviors and memories in a safe and caring, environment where they work to better understand themselves and others, set personal goals, and work toward the changes they would like to see in themselves. In-Home Family Services: Mental health treatment and support services offered to. Inpatient-Mental Health Treatment: Treatment provided in a hospital setting where the child stays 24 hours a day.

It is also sometimes used for diagnosis and treatment and during medication changes or adjustments, to monitor worsening behaviors and symptoms and when a doctor feels a child cannot be evaluated or treated appropriately and safely in an outpatient setting. Before children are hospitalized, every effort should be made to provide crisis or outpatient services that meet their needs while they continue to live at home. Stays are usually short, lasting from a few days to a few weeks. Interpersonal Therapy: IPT is a short-term treatment for depression that helps the young person regain control of their moods and improve their daily functioning.

To do this, the therapist works to engage the young person by showing empathy and helping them to feel supported and understood while helping them to address interpersonal issues. IPT was originally developed to treat depression in adults, but it has been shown to be effective in treating adolescent depression and is commonly recommended as a treatment for depression in children as well.

Children and youth with mental health disorders are often treated with Psychotropic Medications , which are medication capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behavior, many of which need to be monitored closely. Youth come into MFTC through referrals from juvenile justice, foster care, or mental health and are placed in a treatment foster care home where treatment goals are reached by providing close supervision, fair and consistent limits, predictable consequences for rule breaking, a supportive relationship with at least one mentoring adult and reduced exposure to peers with similar problems.

The program also provides behavioral parent training and support for MTFC foster parents, family therapy for biological parents, skills training for youth, supportive therapy for youth, school-based behavioral interventions and academic support and psychiatric consultation and medication management, when needed. The program uses the help of parents, teachers, individual and family therapists, a program supervisor, and others to help accomplish the goals. During the treatment process, youth are expected to progress through a three-level system of supervision, rules, privileges and rewards.

This program is not readily available in all counties. Multi-Systematic Therapy MST : Is an intensive family and community-based treatment program available to youth with serious behavioral issues involved in multiple systems including the juvenile justice system. MST understands that parents and other family members are valuable resources even when they may have multiple needs of their own and works to empower them by identifying family strengths, natural supports and by working with families to address the barriers they face.

The team uses evidence-based therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy and other strategies during the treatment process. MST therapists also help the family implement strategies to set and enforce rules and curfews, improving school attendance and performance, and reduce substance abuse and the need for contact with law enforcement.

Research has proven that MST is an effective alternative to incarceration for young people involved in the juvenile justice system and has been proven to be effective with the toughest youth offenders ages 12 through 17 even those with very a long history of arrests. Families who have received MST report increased family warmth and cohesion and decreased youth aggression with peers.

Mentoring Programs: Programs where an adult works with a young person intensively to increase healthy activity and involvement in school or the community. Outpatient Services Outpatient services are the most commonly used services provided to children. They can be provided in community agencies, schools, homes, clinics or therapists and doctors offices located in the community. Knowledge must be obtained, symptoms must be sought out, and awareness must spread out to form solidarity on mental illness.

Thank you for letting this be known. Thank you very much for the insightful article. My bipolar son is 29, married a has a small child. He is a loving and caring parent but that is unfortunaty where it stops. He is in and out of jobs and he displays very self-destructive behaviour. He is unwell, to put it very mildly. He currently eexperiences a manic episode but although he acknowledges his condition, he cannot and will not recognize it as such.

He refuses therapy and is very very defiant. My heart breaks and aches for my lovely daughter-in-law and his 1 year old son. He has gone without sleeping for four days in a row. Things are spiralling out of control. ANY advice will be welcome.

20 Confessions from Teens With Mental Illness

How is your son doing now? How are you? Thank you so much for sharing your story. It sounds as though you took the words right out of my mouth. I continue to pray to God daily for strength, patience, and guidance to help my son though this illness. Thank you for being so inspiring. We live in Seattle Wa. Does anyone know of a good place for dual diagnosis besides Harborview medical center. I pray for all the families affected. Our lives has been turned inside out. Just trying to get as educated as possible.

They are strong individuals and can live productive lives. We have just begun to fight. Great article. Thank you. Our son is freshman at a great university and we are experiencing exactly the same problems. The school is not helping to get him assessed and they would rather take disciplinary actions while his judgment is completely impaired and he is unable to do anything on his own. In a way we do not have access to medical professionals either because I cannot find one or because he cannot keep appointments.

Also the assessment and diagnosing process is unclear. Advice for anybody with a child between and showing signs of depression and anxiety. Please look for a early psychosis program in a city near you. Our son found help after he had his first and only psychotic episode, our program was free for first six months.

These programs were funded by funds from Congress after Sandy Hook incident. Thank you all for for sharing your stories. My son is 26 and has recently diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia. Now I know why the ups and downs. The binge drinking his levels of alcohol were at not once but regular. He has been to jail countless times for drugs and alcohol consumption.

Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright

He has gone to jail for mtr many times. He has tried to commit suicide many times. In a months time he has been arrested 3x. He has been to rehab many times. Each day I pray to my lord for clarity. He attempted college for 5 semesters and each time he failed to attend classes and failed all together.


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The cost of college, rehab , attorneys, bail bonds, and hospitals has taken a toll on our lives. My husband and daughter refuse to see him they say they have nothing in common and that they have nothing to say. He cannot hold a job. My story is very similar to the ones on this blog. My son is a very handsome man and I love him so much. I pray for HELP for my son. If I knew it was a brain disease I would have supported him and helped him! Dee, you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at that time. It is a cruel disease.

My family has dealt with this for over 30 years. My brother is now 54 and still has mania, depression and at times psychotic episodes. He continues to drink heavily and go off his meds at times.

Meeting the emotional challenges of caring for children with mental health issues

Advocate for your son. Get counseling for yourself too. Please do not hate yourself. Do not do that to you. My son, 22, is bipolar and refusing treatment. And i have to remind myself that i am doing everything i can but that i cannot live his life. People like us have to remain sane since this is a long journey. I stand by him, I am there for him, i give him live, I try to protect him for basically himself.

But after all this trying there is no much else i can do. It is hard to accept. I have not replied to any of these post although I have read very many but your worst touch my heart. Please please please do not blame yourself. You have done the best you could and there was nothing more you could do. Please forgive yourself. There is still time to help him and I am sure you are a wonderful and loving mother.

Your son does not hate you. Wow this really really is an important story! Thank you so much. My son is very attractive and extremely intelligent and talented. Our sons and daughters need to be diagnosed early on before more damage is done including Trumatic brain injury. So thank you angels! I know also without Nami I would really be in deep deep trouble. I recommend Nami to everyone who is reading this post because being with people who understand is the best way to deal with the anguish we go through.

Thank you so much for this insightful article. Many families including myself will benefit. Everyone will need different treatments but the true etiology is finding the right diagnosis and treatment. Great article! He began rapid eye blinking that morphed into repeated sniffing around the age of two. By the time he was entering the fifth grade, his tics had turned into LOUD and very distracting vocal tics and that year we pulled him out for home bound schooling. He went back to school and had a nice 6th, 7th and 8th grade year … but was slowly liking school less and less and slowly starting to withdraw more and more as well as become more and more angry.

He completed three class with my pushing and prodding and nagging and it was destroying our relationship. I finally suggested he just get his GED and call it good … and he did. He WAS able to manage that very quickly because he is very smart … though it was difficult to keep him going through the process since those who suffer from depression have a hard time staying motivated and a hard time focusing.


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E began to threaten suicide in and did so at least a half a dozen times in my presence. Later that year I took him to his first psychiatrist who put him on Trileptal which is a mood stabilizer. The doc began treating E for depression and though E seemed a little better after starting the med, his condition eventually got worse and worse. Sadly, though I loved this doctor, his staff of women in the business office were complete hags and totally uncaring.

What a place for people like that to work.. In many ways, his is not even the same person that I knew the first 14 years of his life. I then moved E early this year to a new psychiatric facility. I suggested that he be put on an anti-depressant. I now believe the Prozac triggered the manic episode and feel responsible for this since I was the one who suggested the anti-depressant in the first place. I documented many of the things he said to me and when he had his next appointment, I told the ANP that E believed he had this condition.

Based on his answers to a series of questions she asked him and based on the things he had said to me, she said he indeed suffered from Bipolar Disorder and finally we had, what I believe to be, a correct diagnosis. I write all this to write, we are in the trenches right now. I have no idea how bad this thing is going to get. I know that regulated sleep and nutrition and stress management and counseling and psych visits and strong family support are all extremely important.

I feel for all of you on here. It is a very sad thing to have to watch an illness like this wreck the life of someone you cherish and adore. I live, eat and breath this thing. It is scary. I wish you all the very best and hope we all find the right treatment plans that work for those we love. The one thing they have going for them though is US and our undying love and assistance. Without it, they will end up homeless, in jail or dead.

Whoever is monitoring this has my permission to give you my email if you need to do that. My son is 19 and was just diagnosed as well. It would be great to connect via email. I am trying to figure out what to do next. He refuses to go on any meds because of the negative side effects that he had while he was in rehabs with them and he continues to self medicate and drowned out his pain and Sorrow by doing drugs which has made him become an addict. Recently he was gone for a long time and when he showed up at our doorstep he was a stick and looked so sickly and I could tell that he was coming off of some major drugs.

He has used threatening suicide in the past ito get what he wants , but kept threatening severely to kill himself and to hurt us at the same time. When I called police to have him taken to a hospital because he threatened suicide severely and had cuts and sores all over him and he was mentally and physically not well at all, ….

There is something very wrong with a law that will allow someone that is going to commit suicide and is obviously not mentally well, to say that they are okay and have someone just drop them off at the street, instead of taking them to a hospital. Our son cannot live here because he literally just destroys everything and he steals and he threatens and he turns everything physical into an episode of Hoarders.. There needs to be a very strong move among family members that have loved ones like this, to change laws that will advocate more for them and to have something to help them live in a safe situation if they cannot mentally care for themselves, as far as being able to remember daily medications , keep a job Etc.

Once they turn 18 and you cannot advocate ,or ask for things as you could before…. It does not cost that much to feed someone or do what they did there per mth.

Recovery is Always Possible

This is one of those conditions where you literally have to live with it in your life to understand. My son is 17 and we are going through the exact same situation. I would love to connect with people who have been through this for advice. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I am crying as I type this.


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Our beautiful daughter just turned 19 and was dx Bipolar 2 after a suicide attempt. She had developed a social anxiety disorder around 15 and now this. I just went through an episode with her tonight because I denied her request to allow her to buy a fish and loan her the money for a 30 gallon tank. She is more than aware that we will not allow her to EVER, EVER bring another pet into our home due to her horrible hx of not taking any responsibility for all the ones she previously talked Ys into.

Now I am the source of all of her problems, she refused to come home, she blocked me on her phone and is being very disrespectful, etc.

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I took her car keys and phone due to her continuing to break our clear rules of her not being allowed to speak to me with such contempt, rudeness, disrespect and telling me to shut up! One minute I am strong and know it is her illness talking and the next I am shocked, angry and hurt. This is so hard! Knowing I am not alone really helps! Thanks to you ALL for sharing! I feel close to you all now. My tears are for us all! I am so sorry you are hurting the way I am. Our one true hope is in our lord Jesus Christ! I pray for us to have the strength, wisdom and knowledge needed to support our children and one another during these trials.

I pray for peace for us all and protection over all of our children. My son is 30 years old. He is single and presently living at home with me. He recently was diagnosed and treated with meds for depression and bipolar disorder. He wants so badly to find answers, get proper and effective treatment, and be able to lead a peaceful and productive life. However, he feels his life is worthless, that things will never change for the better, and that his condition is not helped or taken very seriously by healthcare professionals.

I am so afraid for him. I see the pain, the sadness, the lack of self-esteem, and dwindling hope of ever living the life that most people enjoy naturally. He is very intelligent and constantly searching for how to cope. It is sad also knowing there are so many of YOU struggling with it as parents. I pray for my son, for the proper help to come. God Bless you all. Donna, Make sure the psychiatrist that he is seeing is well versed in bipolar needs and has him on the proper medication.

My son had just started Latuda and it was seeming to help bipolar depression and sleep issues. You can ask about it if hes not on it. The one thing that your son has going for him, that is great, is that he seems to be compliant. He has a desire right now to want to have things change and that is key to him moving forward With medication and counseling helps, that can change things for him greatly. Try and see if he can get involved in some kind of volunteer work because in helping others, it will help him have his mind shifted into something that is positive and not situated only on his own challenges.

Thank you, my son is 16 and had been suffering his entire live. I was the only one that could see it until now. He is in a IOP but he is resisting all treatment. We have been in the hospital 3 times. I am so sad for him, he is very self distructful, it is painful to watch. I have a 26 year son who knows he needs help but refuses. I am his mother and I, like all of the parents here, love my child and worry constantly. He has very intense mood swings that easily become frightening. We want to help so much before something bad happens.

Someone above said regulated sleep and nutrition and stress management and counseling and psych visits and strong family support are all extremely important, totally agree. It will get better focus on little gains. Most of us have been or are going through what you are. There is Bipolar 1 and Bipolar II. My adopted sister has one type and my adopted son has the more severe.

She was diagnosed at 15 , but has been on medication and eats well and does not have the intensity, or length in her manic times, Depression seems to not be an issue for her either. On the other hand, our adopted son, who is now 18, was diagnosed ADHD when he was young, but I started seeing signs of things that seemed much more severe.

I went for years of getting frustrated in IEP meetings with teachers and in talking to doctors about the fact that I felt like he might be Bipolar, but nobody would listen. A JV officer said that he either was going to be put in jail or in a medically watched over resident type situation, which we frankly had been trying to get him in for 3 years. Finally during this time he was diagnosed as PTSD and bipolar and was on medication. After a year there, he came home this January on a trial basis till this May, to see how he would do things were pretty much OK until he turned It has been heartbreaking….

I also would comment to the moms and dads to make sure that they are seeking help if THEY need it. I wholeheartedly agree about structure and diet exedra. Many times just talking it out with other family, or individuals that are dealing with the same scenario can help lighten some of the emotional load. Hugs to all and keep hope. I too thought some of the drinking and smoking pot was your typical college stuff and due to him not having many friends or a girlfriend in high school never really has to set boundaries.

I am lucky that he noticed on his own that things were not right with him. He had panic attacks, was very angry, hard time at work and dealt with anxiety and depression. He had to come out of school cause he had no motivation to go to class or anything for that matter.

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What I Absolutely Wish I'd Known When Raising My Bipolar Son

He will be going into a treatment facility in 4 days and actually excited about it. I did my research on the facilities to ensure that what their main concentration was is mental health specifically bi polar. I greatly appreciate the article and the comments. But how did you or your loved ones finally recognize their condition and decide to deal with it? We are parents to a bipolar son who just turned 28, and is in complete and utter denial of his diagnosis. His illness killed his marriage, multiple very good jobs, and really any sense of who our son is.

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