Caring for adolescents can present unique challenges because they are older than a child but not quite an adult. Their physiological maturation is not complete yet as endocrine changes and hormonal drives continue to fluctuate, and the prefrontal cortex needs to finish developing, which controls planning and making decisions. Plus, teens are often in complicated social settings where they may partake in risk-seeking behavior and fall victim to peer pressure. Fortunately, adolescents can benefit from acute care when necessary.
What Is Acute Care?
Acute care is secondary health care where someone receives active but short-term treatment for a serious injury or severe episode of illness. Patients may need acute care during urgent medical conditions. Other times, acute care is ideal during recovery from surgery. In many cases, patients who require acute care have a high level of need and are often vulnerable, anxious, and in crisis. Mental health acute care happens when patients are at risk, sometimes of self-harm or suicide.
This health care term encompasses a range of clinical functions, such as:
- Urgent Care
- Emergency Care
- Trauma Care
A hospital or medical facility will provide acute care using technical equipment, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and various clinical personnel. During their stay, patients may receive a diagnosis, care, and treatment for a range of mental health conditions.
Benefits of Adolescent Acute Care
You want your teen to feel happy and healthy and ultimately benefit from acute care instead of causing more issues. Here are a few ways adolescents can benefit from acute care:
- Acute Care Removes Adolescents from Current Situations
It is common for teens with addiction or mental health issues to feel stuck in their situation. Even though adolescents seem to be surrounded by people, they can feel alone. Parents can react in predictable ways that don’t work well, while teachers may not fully understand what’s happening. Teens can even hide troubles from their friends. Feeling overwhelmed, teens may lose hope. Residential treatment can remove them from a current situation, allowing them to start fresh.
- It Introduces a New Set of Peers
Parents worry teens may be around a bad influence, especially if they notice changes in behavior. Maybe a new group is enabling or encouraging unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drugs and alcohol. If adolescents deal with depression, eating disorders, or other mental health issues, this type of influence can worsen it. As the teen enters acute care, they will meet people who are also going through treatment, hopefully leading to better connections.
- It Provides Support Groups for Teens
Through acute care, adolescents may receive various supportive options, such as individual therapy, group therapy, and therapeutic activities. The therapists, nurses, and social workers are available anytime to listen and discuss issues. Support groups with fellow recovering teens are helpful to overall recovery and self-esteem. Even if they have different needs, they still support each other, even after the program ends.
- It Helps Families with Resources
Families can visit their teens when they have acute care and may be able to participate in family therapy sessions. You will learn to communicate better with each other and open up to resolve issues. Instead of draining yourself and overwhelming your family, this facility can offer support, resources, and referrals to help everyone cope.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care
- Inpatient Care
During inpatient care, adolescents stay at a facility to receive assessment, diagnosis, and rapid stabilization of their psychiatric issues. This includes around-the-clock support with group therapy, medication management, and physician supervision seven days a week. Families may find inpatient acute care treatment more effective because of the various benefits, including unmatched support and family resources. Teens can come out of mental health acute care with new confidence and the tools to cope.
- Outpatient Care
Some adolescents do not require inpatient care. Programs can still support these patients as they learn the necessary skills to improve daily functioning. A partial hospitalization program might meet three to five days a week and consist of group therapy, medication management, and nursing supervision. Teens receive an individualized care plan from the treatment team.