Your Adult Child Was Hospitalized With Schizophrenia: Planning the Next Phase of Treatment Post-Crisis
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that can lead to a mental health crisis that requires hospitalization for stabilization. If your adult child is in this situation, they need help beyond the hospital. They need ongoing treatment with medical care and therapy. Guide their next steps by providing options, looking at residential treatment facilities, and helping them see a future with mental illness under control.
Hospitalization may be necessary in a mental health crisis. This intensive, around-the-clock medical and mental health care helps to stabilize someone struggling with psychosis.
However, it is not the end of treatment.
Stabilization is just the beginning of a long journey of care. Your adult child may seem back to their old self after a few days in the hospital, but they have not been cured.
In the wake of this frightening crisis, it’s essential to make a plan for ongoing, long-term treatment.
How Is Schizophrenia Treated?
As you face treatment planning, it helps to understand the guidelines for schizophrenia treatment according to experts. The American Psychiatric Association states that patients should be provided with a “person-centered treatment plan that includes evidence-based pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments.”
In other words, your child will benefit from a treatment plan that includes:
- Strategies and therapies tailored to their unique needs, not a one-size-fits-all plan
- Treatments shown to be effective based on evidence from research
- Therapy, including behavioral therapy psychoeducation
Before you select any residential treatment facility program, make sure they adhere to these guidelines. Your child should get an individualized treatment plan with types of therapy that work best for them and time to try medications that are effective with minimal side effects.
Enlist the Help of a Patient Health Advocate or Case Manager
Coordinating care can get complicated and quickly become overwhelming, especially if you have limited experience in healthcare. Patients have rights, and mental health and patient advocates are there to ensure they are met. A case manager is a professional who helps patients and families coordinate care.
The hospital may have one or both on staff, but you can also hire someone to come in and work with your adult child and to advocate on their behalf. A case manager can handle much of the bureaucracy of care and clarify your options. You and your family will have the final decisions about ongoing treatment.
Rely on a mental health advocate if you have any concerns about how your child is being treated during hospitalization. You may not understand all the rules, what constitutes appropriate care, or patient rights, but an advocate does. They will be on your child’s side.
Choose a Residential Treatment Program
To have time to sort through medications, and for many other reasons, the best option for someone with severe mental illness is a residential program. These facilities include teams of staff with different areas of expertise, the resources to provide a variety of treatment strategies, and a safe environment for learning to live with schizophrenia.
Additional benefits of a residential program include:
- Individualized treatment plans
- A chance for staff and therapists to get to know residents well and understand their needs
- A community environment with mutual support among residents
- Life skills training and lifestyle changes
- Recreation and alternative therapies to support treatment
- A stable environment with a routine
- Transition programs and aftercare
- Family involvement
Residential treatment can serve as a transition to outpatient care. For a severe and debilitating mental illness like schizophrenia, going right home after hospitalization and using outpatient therapy is not adequate. To learn to manage the symptoms, to live with minimal dysfunction, and to stabilize medical care, a few months minimum in residential care is best.
Include Your Adult Child in Decisions
With an adult child in crisis, you must take the lead in providing their care. To the extent possible, involve them in the decision making. Present options, explain the benefits of a treatment facility, offer whatever support they need to go, and ask them what they prefer.
Saying yes to a treatment facility may be tough for an adult once stable after hospitalization. If they resist the idea of ongoing treatment, talk more generally about what they want for their future. Let them tell you how they want to live. Do they want to work? Live independently? Be able to have friends and manage psychotic symptoms?
Getting your child to open up about what they envision for their future can help them make a better choice about care. Instead of focusing on the treatment, emphasize their goals and preferred outcomes. Then you can explain how treatment will get them there.
Make a Plan for After Treatment
One of the great things about good residential treatment programs is that they get families involved and help plan for a future after residency. As your adult child transitions from hospitalization to long-term treatment, start thinking about what comes next.
If your child’s goal is to live independently, work with the treatment staff to plan for it. This may mean living with you for a short time as a transition or going to a community living facility. Aftercare programs through residential programs can help your child continue with care as they begin to live their lives again, either on their own or with you for support.
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Take Care of Yourself During This Difficult Time
As a parent, you want to give everything you have to make your child well and happy, but you also need to manage your own mental health. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and burned out worrying about and caring for a sick child, even when they are an adult.
Don’t skimp on your physical health right now. Carve out even just a little bit of time each day for some exercise, healthy meals, adequate sleep, and quiet time only for you. Making the time will keep you healthy and feeling better both physically and emotionally.
Even with good self-care, your mental health may slide. You may become anxious or depressed, or even turn to alcohol to self-medicate during a tough time. Get ahead of these problems by enlisting support from loved ones.
- Let one or two trusted friends or family be a part of the process of planning treatment.
- Reach out to others just to talk and to share your experience.
- Try a support group for family of people with severe mental illness.
- Let friends and family relieve you from day-to-day chores while you get treatment sorted for your child.
- If you still struggle to cope, find a therapist to help you work through your difficult emotions.
You cannot take care of your child or make the best decisions for them if you are also falling apart. Taking some time to manage your own needs is not selfish; it is essential.
A mental health crisis, especially with the symptoms of psychosis like hallucinations and delusions, can be very distressing. Getting emergency medical help is often the best first step, but it is not the end of care. Help your adult child get the treatment they need to thrive with this condition. Start with learning about treatment and gathering options. Get them into residential care and then work with them to plan for a better future.
If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with schizophrenia and other complex mental illnesses.