Adolescence is a complex and challenging period in anyone’s life, but for teens struggling with mental health conditions, it can be an especially vulnerable time. Currently, suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst young people aged 15-24.
No one can say with absolute certainty what’s driving this trend, but it is difficult to deny that there is a mental health crisis in America, and young people are at particular risk. There are a number of treatment programs that can provide effective care and relief from mental health disorders.
While psychotherapy, group therapy, and other outpatient programs serve their purpose for certain cases, the evidence is growing that residential programs have a higher success rate for treatment-resistant depression and other mood disorders. Here are a few reasons to consider residential treatment.
Social media use contributes to feelings of isolation and loneliness, while the undeveloped prefrontal cortex justifies risk-taking due to a limited capacity for long-term executive planning. The teenage brain is not yet fully formed; as such, young people are more likely to rationalize dangerous and impulsive behavior, leading to a heightened risk of substance abuse and suicide.
Young people with strong familial bonds are significantly less likely to engage in destructive behavior, including drug and alcohol abuse. While parental involvement is the most beneficial, any older mentor can serve as a positive role model to a struggling teen.
The facts are quite clear that teens with positive adult influences have higher school performance, lower rates of substance abuse, and are much less likely to seek validation through risky sexual practices. In residential programs, patients are fully immersed in a safe and restorative environment with close proximity to adults with advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, social work, and counselling.
Not only are they surrounded by older people with the knowledge to properly care for them, but they are encouraged to engage in positive and healthy activities with their peers during their stay.
Treatment of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and emerging personality disorders in teens requires a profound and radical approach which acknowledges multiple contributing factors, from the biological to the sociological.
Staff at residential programs typically take a holistic approach, combining traditional treatment with innovative new programs such as equine therapy, creative writing, and art therapy. Centers like the Polaris Teen residential programs encourage artistic and athletic expression as part of the recovery process.
Young brains require creative stimulation and a sense of purpose and identity. Staff working with teens in crisis have found that programs which incorporate art, exercise, and creativity tend to have higher success rates.
Experimental treatments enable young people to discover their individual calling, awaken interests they did not know they had, and help them on their path to recovery.
A mental health crisis can contribute to lowered school performance and make a teen feel helpless in the face of looming college prospects and expectations of deciding on their future plans. Residential programs do not put education on hold for the duration of treatment, but instead enrich students’ existing school experience.
Education coordinators act as a liaison between the student and their current school, enabling them to work on in-house and online courses, complete their GED, and apply for college. Education coordinators will help students navigate the confusing world of college applications and assist them with goals and planning for the future.
Students who previously struggled in school often thrive in this type of setting due to individualized guidance and encouragement. Teachers and therapists alike are accommodating, and focused on creating the best possible outcome for each student.