Parental psychiatric intervention

I am so mad right now because my daughter’s dad admitted her to a 72-hour watch at a mental health hospital. I am so against it because I think I can help her. He won’t even let me and I am her mother, so do you think this will make her worse? She is 16 and very introverted, she’s a sweetie and I think he drove her to this madness! She had been cutting and taking meds from her dad and grandmothers cabinets.

Do you have any advice as to how I can help her from a distance? I don’t spend a lot of time with her and live in a different city. Any advice would be so appreciated.

Laura S. – Jamaica Estates

Hi Laura,

I am sorry to hear about the situation with your daughter. I wish I could give you some advice that would really be helpful, but I know too little about the situation. So, instead let me share a few tips. Hope it’s helpful!

I don’t know what you’re relationship is like with your daughter, but I imagine it would be helpful to her if you called or visited. Being admitted into a psychiatric hospital can be scary and confusing especially for someone her age. More than anything else, she may just want to hear that you are there for her, love her, and want to help in any way you can.

I’m not sure how familiar you are with how psychiatric hospitals work. After observing you’re daughter for 72 hours they will make a recommendation based on what they saw (watching her behavior first hand and interacting with her should give the staff a pretty good picture of her situation). My suggestion is to discuss with the hospital staff what their recommendations are and the reasoning behind them. Since they will be much more familiar with your situation, they may also have more specific ideas on how you can help and support your daughter through this crisis.

Often times, people think that professional help with mental health issues is not necessary. Sometimes, you may be able to help your daughter without any other intervention, but it is always good to err on the side of caution and get a professional opinion on the situation. That is what appears to be happening at the hospital. (Once again, I’m speaking generally without the details of your situation.)

I hope this helps a little. I know that when a loved one is having mental health problems it can be challenging for everyone in the family as well; so do take care of yourself.


Schizoaffective disorder diagnosis

My 20-year-old son has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. He takes medication and attends day programs. His symptoms of hearing voices, seeing things etc. come and go depending on the medication levels. He is playing video games – grand theft auto. I never let that happen when he was younger and I dislike it totally but one of his case workers said it helps him with his thought process and keeps him from acting out. This doesn’t sound right. I think there are good games he could play that would help his cognitive thinking and rebuild his self – prior to the diagnosis he was working, driving, and planning to study film in college. I would appreciate your opinion on this.

Katrina M. – Richmond Hill

Hi Katrina,

I’m sorry to hear about your son’s illness, but also glad to hear from you; clearly a caring and involved parent. I hesitate to offer an opinion on your particular situation because I don’t know your son well enough (or at all!).

One of the unusual things about mental health is that treatment and things that are healthy and helpful can vary greatly from one person to the next. It is a possibility that the video games are indeed helping your son, but with the facts I have there is no way for me to know. I imagine you have discussed your particular question with some degree of depth with the case worker you mention. Since you are not completely satisfied with what you are hearing, perhaps it would be a good idea to get a second opinion from another professional who knows your son well.

Another thing I wonder about is what your son’s feelings are on the topic. Although he is ill, he is old enough to have his own say on the hobbies he chooses. It’s definitely not easy to cope with schizoaffective disorder and if this makes him really happy then perhaps it is good.

I hope this is a little helpful.

Jacob Berelowitz, LMSW is host and executive director of Talk Therapy TV. He can be reached at jacob@talktherapytv.org.


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