Mental health: what to do for a child in crisis?


Over the next few weeks, The Cheshire Herald will be publishing a series of columns, courtesy of State Representative Liz Linehan (D-103) regarding this mental health issue in children and adolescents.

This is the second installment in my series on children’s mental health in partnership with The herald. Last week we discussed the warning signs of mental health issues in children and how to determine if your child needs to be evaluated. While there have been many warning signs, it’s fair to say that any sudden changes in behavior may mean your child needs to be evaluated by a pediatrician or mental health professional. You may not be quite sure what normal and age-appropriate behavior is, but it is always safer to err on the side of caution and ask a trusted professional to speak to your child.

But what do you do if it goes beyond the warning signs, to a situation where you feel your child may be in danger? If your child is actively harming himself, having thoughts of suicide, or considering harming others, it should be considered a crisis and immediate intervention is warranted.

Connecticut has partnered with United Way for Mobile Crisis Intervention and the Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Service (EMPS). This is a free 24/7 service so that your child is immediately evaluated by a mental health professional. If you are calling by cell phone, you can also reach 2-1-1 toll free at (800) 203-1234. Press 1, then press 1 again to log in to Youth EMPS.

What should you expect after calling 2-1-1? A social worker or other mental health professional will arrive within 45 minutes most of the time and will come to your home discreetly in their own vehicle, unless an ambulance is required or a call to 911 is made. pass. The highly trained social worker will speak directly with the child and family to assess any immediate risk, then make recommendations to the parent for further assessment, treatment, or other options.

I cannot stress how valuable this service is to any child or family who needs help. In Connecticut, “the caller determines the crisis,” which means there is never a reason to be denied help. There is no shame in having the Mobile Psychiatric Emergency Department team come to your home. Every professional on the team would rather you call than not. If you feel like you should call, then call. Trust your instincts. Don’t worry about overreacting, placing a burden on others by calling, or worrying about the stigma associated with calling for service. The service is confidential, it is not entered in the police register and there is no charge. This service is available precisely for this reason: to help a child and a family in crisis.

Suicidal thoughts and expressions of hopelessness, or any self-harm is clearly an emergency. But it could also happen that your child just can’t calm down, or maybe their behavior is getting out of hand, or they are suffering from panic attacks, or maybe you are even having trouble getting them out. out of bed that day because of her incredible sadness or anxiety. These are all reasons why you may decide to call 2-1-1.

Remember that calling a professional is helpful not only for your child, but also for you, the parent. Most of us will have times when parenthood is overwhelming and having a child with a mental illness or behavior problem makes that feeling worse. A fresh professional perspective is beneficial, and allowing someone to objectively assess your child can put you on the road to recovery for all.

Calling 2-1-1 and EMPS is ideal for the needs of the moment. If you realize that the situation is stable, but you think your child needs to be seen soon, there are other options as well. Improved care centers in the area will see your child quickly – in as little as two hours, two days or two weeks, depending on the severity of the situation. Three of these locations in our immediate area include the Child Guidance Center in Meriden, Wellmore in Waterbury and Wheeler Clinic with offices statewide including Waterbury and Plainville. Each of these locations has information and phone numbers listed on the internet and is available for initial triage, assessment, and assessment, as well as outpatient and family therapy, home therapy, and even daily intensive programs. after school called IOP. . These enhanced care clinics can help you from initial assessment to intensive therapy if you wish, and will allow you and your child to see someone on a schedule that is right for you.

These are great places to start when you are concerned that your child is in pain. EMPS, 2-1-1, and Enhanced Care Clinics are proven to provide support and are backed by a team of highly trained professionals who use evidence-based, trauma-informed practices. Best of all, they’re available to you today. Don’t wait to ask for help.

Now that you have information on how to find professional support for your child outside the home, next week we will focus on how to support your child inside the home by actively doing so. a safer place. A word of warning: Next week’s column will contain a “trigger warning” by which we alert you to discussions surrounding self-harm methods such as FGC, discussion of suicide, etc. A heavy topic indeed, but one that is incredibly important and vital to ensuring the safety of our children.

As always, I wish you, your child and all of your family the best of luck. By reading this column and arming yourself with all the options available, you are on the right track.

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