Mental health awareness is very important in America. On average a single hospital can see over 20+ mental health cases per day, sometimes more.
The problem with that is most general hospitals don’t offer full psychiatric services or treatment, at least not the kind you could get at a full mental health hospital.
There are a lot of people who don’t know how to get help. People call mental health hospitals but do not know exactly what to ask for or what they need. This leads to them getting the wrong information.
Here is what you need to know about getting a child or adult into the hospital for psychiatric services.
Children or teens have biological (mom and dad) or legal guardians until they turn 18 years old. This means that the guardian can have them seen by a psychiatrist rather the child wants to or not. Now the child must be expressing thoughts to harm themselves or others or has had a significant change in behavior such as being withdrawn or having depressed like symptoms. It’s very important to understand that if your child is only misbehaving they may not meet the criteria for a psychiatric admission into inpatient care. They may need more of a behavioral course of treatment. However, it may be a good idea to get a psychiatric evaluation done first.
It’s important to know that if your child has never had a psychiatric evaluation or admission most doctors or psychiatrists may try to avoid having the child admitted they may suggest an outpatient service.
A common misunderstanding about inpatient admission is that the child will be “cured” after discharging, this is not true. Parents need to follow up with their outpatient doctor and if the child is on medication, make sure the child is taking the medication, sometimes the child will have to return to inpatient continued treatment.
Adults are their own guardian unless they are not able to care for themselves and they have a legal guardian. This commonly happens with the elderly, or persons with neurological disorders or intellectual disability.
The family member in care of the disabled individual has to have legal guardianship over the adult in order to sign them into a psychiatric hospital legally. They would have to obtain this through the court and prove that the adult is not able to care for themselves with medical documents.
If you have a friend or family member who is in crisis or is expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts or behaviors you should talk to them and have them seek help. They can go to any local hospital and receive a psychiatric evaluation. If they are resistant to seeking help and are still expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts you should call 911 immediately. The police will come and assess the situation and if necessary take the individual to a local hospital for an evaluation.
Sometimes when the police are involved they may not see the immediate threat and they will suggest the patient seek help on their own. This commonly happens when the individual is not an extreme danger to themselves or others and is able to contract for safety. In these cases, the police may not see the necessity of taking the individual to an emergency department for further psychological evaluation at that time.
The family member or friend who has witnessed the behavior can express urgency that the individual should be taken for an evaluation. Please take note that family and friends cannot do anything further but advocate for the adult in question unless the family or friend has legal guardianship. Family members and friends do not have any jurisdiction over any adult over 18 in Maryland, even if the adult is their own biological offspring they don’t have legal guardianship.
For adolescents or children, their parents can bring them to an appointment with a psychiatrist. There are resources where a parent can get their child a psychiatric evaluation, or they can take their child to a local Emergency Department for a psychiatric evaluation.
Sheppard Pratt Health System is a great hospital in Baltimore County that offers inpatient and outpatient services for Adults, Children, and Teens.
Sheppard Pratt has a therapy referral service where a parent can call and schedule an appointment for their child to be seen by a psychiatrist.
The hospital also has a Crisis After Care Service or CWIC clinic that is open between the hours of 10 am – 8 pm Monday through Friday. This clinic is for individuals who are in crisis and are non-violent or under the influence. Individuals can walk in and be evaluated for either inpatient or outpatient psychiatric services. The wait times can be long, and if the individual has any existing medical conditions they could be sent to a local hospital for medical clearance. There the hospital can complete the psychiatric evaluation and send the patient back to Sheppard Pratt if there is a bed available.
Call 211 in Baltimore County, or call Crisis Response System 410-921-2214
Sheppard Pratt Health System
If you would like to schedule an appointment call TRS: 410-938-5000 between 8 am and 4 pm
If you would like to know more about CWIC call: 410-938-5302
For any other admission, related questions call: 410-938-3800
or visit their website at www.sheppardpratt.org