What would you do if your child or teenager was facing a mental health crisis? This is my true story.

What usually happens when a teenager sinks into a deep dark depression,  threatens to hurt himself or shows signs of extremely disruptive behavior? In many cases, the child will end up in a hospital ER.

Mental health issues among kids and teens nearly tripled to 14,000 last year from 5,000 in 2008 according to an article in the Hartford Courant. How do you react the first time your kid begins acting out by cutting himself or threatening suicide?

My wife and I are certainly not experts on this subject but we have been through this scenario before. Your child, by their actions, is reaching out for help. Despite the progress that's been made by Connecticut mental health organizations and the Department of Children and Families, mental health issues among kids are reaching crisis proportions.

When we drove our son, Ethan James to the Danbury Hospital ER because of a cutting incident many years ago, he initially had to be evaluated by the ER's psychiatric social worker. After the evaluation, he was then taken to a small room that locked from the inside while the social worker consulted with the on-call psychiatrist about the best course of treatment.

It was determined that Ethan needed one week of residential treatment at Silver Hill Psychiatric Hospital in New Canaan. Before that could be implemented, our insurance company had to sign off on his admission to the tune of a $500 copay. Don't even get me started on health insurance as it pertains to mental health issues.

After we received the go-ahead from our insurance company, we were told that rules, and regulations state that a mental health patient must be transported by ambulance to the psych hospital for their own protection. When you're following the ambulance that's driving your teenager to a residential psychiatric hospital you wonder where have we gone wrong? It's not like we woke up every morning wondering how we could mess up our kid today. We learned that most of the time your teenager just wants you to listen and not to judge them.

To read about some of the reasons kids and teenagers are crying out for mental health treatment and what types of treatment are available, click on this helpful article in the Hartford Courant and I sincerely hope to God that you will never have to follow that ambulance.





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