12 year old has been inpatient for almost 6 weeks. Suicidal ideation. Depression. Anxiety. Self harm (cutting).

First length was just under 3 weeks, but ended up back in hospital 3 days after discharge. Second stay was almost 2 weeks. Did two days of partial (daytime) therapy (Thursday and Friday). Went back to school this Monday. Said school was great, but flipped out Monday night and next morning. Threatened to kill herself. Back into hospital.

Now her treatment team is recommending residential treatment.

Sure, she cries when I leave, and grabs my legs. SHE IS FRUSTRATED and SAD and ANGRY and DEPRESSED! She is being "bullied" (her words) by the other girls there -- of course she is! Everyone there is there for a reason, and they aren't best friend material! She gets angry. She has tantrums. Been given the "bootie juice" shots a couple of times. Tried to run away this morning because she hates it so much. The facility is fantastic -- and she actually really likes the staff, her nurses, the doctor, and her therapist. It's the kids that are the problem!

And yes, she has suicidal ideation! And she is seeing black holes in the ground that terrify her!!! Don't these things mean she should be remaining in this acute care facility????

She has been referred to a facility about 90 minutes from our home. Anyone have experience with this facility? The reviews are mixed, but mostly bleak, or downright terrifying! Staff reviews are awful.

Anyone have recommendation for a Tricare approved treatment facility in the San Antonio area? Austin even? Just planning ahead, if this turns out to be the right step. I AM NOT ACCEPTING THIS YET! I WANT MORE INFORMATION and EVIDENCE that it is necessary!

Not sure what I even need right now. Reassurance? Comfort? Information? Advice?????? I'm brokenhearted and I feel like I'm drowning. Husband is on "let's fix this" mode (par for the course. Sister is just... her old self -- she's the center of the universe, although once she hears this news, I think she might snap out of it. (She's felt seriously put out that her sister has been requiring our attention for a month.)

Sorry for rambling. I needed a place to share. We haven't told our elderly parents any of this. They might have heart attacks. (Not being facetious.)
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Well-Known Member
Hi there,

Welcome and sorry for the turn of events which brought you here. If your photo is actually yourself or a family member, we recommend that you change it to something that cannot identify you. This is an Internet forum and anybody can read our posts, without being a member. It is best to protect your confidentiality.

Based on your signature, it sounds like you certainly have your hands full. I also have two difficult (step) children with mental illness.

Is there a specific reason, beyond your personal doubt that your daughter is as ill as the treatment team seems to believe, that you are resisting their diagnosis? Your daughter sounds very seriously ill at the present time, and it does seem like she cannot be kept safe in the home setting. Do you want her to remain in the facility where she is currently a patient?

More info will help us be supportive and provide any information we can which might be helpful.
Been a member of the forum for quite a while. Just haven't touched base in a bit.

Yes, my daughter is ill. I'm just feeling blindsided.

PS Ha ha, noooooo the avatar isn't me. That's the British actor, Billie Piper, in her role as Rose Tyler on Doctor Who.


Well-Known Member
Drama. I am so sorry you are going through this. by the way, I would remove the reference to geographical area.

From what you write she is where she needs to be, in residential. With respect to a better place I would call my insurance, and get in touch with your local n.a.m.i, for alternatives. Local psychiatrists, mental health, and the county department of education school psychologist might know of options.


Well-Known Member
Unless she is a danger to other people, I have had really scary bad experiences with residential regarding foster kids in them. I saw security guards carrying little kids into padded rooms by their hands and feet, little ones being restrained and I just found the environment spooky and not conducive to healing. Plus the other kids are very disturbed. Now I am not an expert nor have I seen anything except two state run centers so I don't know if they are all this way, but do your homework and visit first. Several times. Look online for reviews/complaints. Get input.

If your daughter is not dangerous to others or to her own life, if it we're me I would be more inclined to use long term Day Treatment and services where she can come home...a psychiatrist, psychologist and medication. But if she is a danger to anyone else, then you have no choice. I don't know if she harms others in the home. Or pets. Or if she is a very serious danger to truly kill herself if she is alone in her room. You know these things.

Does your daughter have a diagnosis? Is she on medications? Is she hallucinating...those black holes she sees? Sounds like she may be....hang in there. Don't be hasty. Doctors are not Gods. Get a second opinion before you decide this is best.

You don't have to tell the rest of your family anything right now. If your parents are frail, soften the truth...they need to survive and don't need the whole story.

Lastly if your avator is a real person for privacy's sake I would change it. This is a very busy forum.
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Thanks @Copabanana @BloodiedButUnbowed and @SomewhereOutThere

Avatar is an actress from Britain (Doctor Who character, Rose Tyler). So no, not me. ;) I may be classified as New Member, but have been registered since 2013. Haven't posted much, is all.

Her medications are listed in my signature.

There is a waiting list to get into the particular facility, so she will remain where she is for a while. I've already put out feelers for alternative locations and professional opinions.

I can't figure out how to edit the OP to remove the reference to my state. (I believe that is because it has been replied to.)

Thanks everyone.
Be wary of doctors who want to put your kid in a what amounts to prison and sedate them. Will destroy the child while padding hospital bank accounts.

Send her to an outdoors, adjustment program that is positive reenforcement based, but also provides supportive discipline.

Kids are incredibly smart, often times much smarter than adults in some areas. The worst thing you can do is ignore them.

Compassion. Listening. Support.


Well-Known Member
I'm going to respectfully put in my opinion of wilderness programs which are outdoor programs that push discipline and are often abusive. No, no and no. I have been on this board for over a decade and have never heard of that working even a bit. You don't know what goes on when you aren't there. Discipline doesn't treat mental illness. Like any illness, the person is sick, not bad. Those outdoor programs cost every penny as much as any treatment center

There is nothing wrong with stabilizing medications if they work. My medication saved my life. Just be careful not to let doctor's overmedicate. Do your homework. I did, even before the internet. Empower yourself with knowledge. That is a lot of what I did. I did not just blindly trust a psychiatrist or a therapist with my mental healthcare. Your daughter is so young. She depends on you to be her informed advocate. That means you don't have to agree with the team, especially if they have not been able to help your daughter. That is a bad sign as to their competence. Psychiatry is very much an inexact science, but some professionals have better insight and methods than others. They are not created equal like all professions.

I don't see residential as a good first choice, but as the only choice for kids who are dangerous to others in the home. If they aren't dangerous or drug abusers I do feel it is better to use home based therapy for younger children. I myself have been a psychiatric patient most of my life for a mood disorder and managed to have a great life while never living in a lockdown facility or doing wilderness stuff. Unless she is dangerous, I can't see anything permanently good coming out of either residential long term placement or the torture of short term wilderness camps. I didn't need day treatment, but that would have been far less scary to me than being sent away for any length of time.

Did these team of doctors share why she should go to residential? Have you considered, if you do feel she needs to be sent away, a boarding g school for troubled teens? I don't know for sure, but I think it is less military than a residential treatment center. At least it sounds like less scary.

I wish you luck!!
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Hi Swot,

You make awesome points and are clearly educated. Much respect.

I agree, some wilderness programs have been reported for abuse in the past; though I feel that is a strong word. I believe this came from a belief that you could hammer change into a child with psychiatric issues. You can’t and that has been learned; and so many amazing programs have developed since.

Still, I do think we have changed the definition of abuse a lot in the last 15 years. Encouragement and structure are now often seen as abuse. Not giving a child exactly what they want, when they want it is seen as abuse.

I feel like it goes both ways. There are tons of cases where outdoor therapy wouldn’t work for certain child. Similarily, there are cases where kids are downing psychiatric medications daily; when probably all they needed a hug from their mom or dad...along with some structure and guidance from someone they trust.

At the end of the day, cases are so different. You have children who can’t fully communicate emotions or needs. Parents that tell some form of the truth based on their perception of reality. And doctors try to decipher. Many will give medications, few will require therapy first.

It all varies. I guess.



Well-Known Member
The problem is, mental illness is not a behavior disorder. Therefore discipline doesn't work. Nobody to date actually knows what causes any mental illness or the best solution. Everything we know is simply theory, which changes rapidly.

One thing we do or should know is that mental illness is not caused by giving kids what they want. Is cancer caused by giving kids what they want? Both are illnesses. Neither are behavior problems caused by deliberately misbehaving. Maybe wilderness camps may empower a few insecure kids who are basically healthy...lots of kids like to go on adventures...but as one who has had a mood disorder since childhood, that type of experience would have done nothing but cause terror and anger at the parent, not easily fixed. As for being positive, that is always good. But you can't love away a mood disorder. It's not caused by a lack of love. Very loved kids can have depression and anxiety and schizophrenia. My own feeling is that most is inherited. Mental illness runs in my family. Identical twin studies have proven that it is not 100 percent genetic. But what is the trigger that activates it?Nobody knows again.

Until the question marks are removed from mental health issues, there is really nobody who knows what really causes it and why different people respond to certain medications and therapies. Science is lots of theory. Psychiatry, as of 2018, is ALL theory. No answers. You can think it's caused by a child not being loved. I can think it is mostly genetic. Neither of us can be proven right or wrong because nobody has proven anything yet. Lots and lots of theories. No way to prove cause. No way to prove a diagnoses. No way to prove what is right or wrong. No blood tests to prove anything.

I posted my ideas from being in the system a long time, having a mood disorder myself and helping myself by learning a lot. From age 23 to 64 (how ling IIhave been in the mental health community) mental healthcare has changed dramatically. I am not sure they have more definitive answers now than then, but I do think that now there is more compassion. The methods for treating children makes me cringe. This could have been me, if kids had been given mental healthcare back in the day. There have been kids who have died at wilderness camps. Names and places and instances are on the internet. Kids are sometimes kidnapped to go to these places. I can't see this as helpful to mental illness, which is not bad behavior, but an illness. Traumatizing is more like it as would be, making an anxious child walk twenty miles a day and sleep in the dark. Residential? Only functional for kids who are too dangerous to live in society. I only saw two but they were scary. They just shut one down near me. Many get closed down.

As for abuse, I personally feel the word abuse is pretty obvious. If kids are screaming in terror or hurt or whipped or forced to push on when they are struggling physically or emotional traumatized by some bozo counselor calling him names and humiliating him, I call that abuse. And it happens.

We need a lot more knowledge about the why's of mental illness before we know how to best help each person. We are far from there yet. I am especially squeamish about treating children. I knew one boy of 12 who took 15 pills a day. Our country medicates more than any other. My medications saved my life, but I made decisions with my doctors as an informed adult and refused to be doped up or overmedicated. I have one medication each day and one PRN. And no others. And I feel normal on my medications. A kid can't articulate if he feels like a zombie. Yes, medications can do this. I as an adult refused to be a zombie. A kid can't do that. What do I think of kids on medications? My opinion is very low and slow and as a last resort. And if it's not helping, remove it. There is a place for medication. We in the U.S. just do too much of it. This is my experience as well as my opinion.

And for potheads....weed is often very bad for mental illness. It has been proven to trigger schizophrenia that is latent. Makes sense. Weed causes paranoia in some. I shudder when certain doctor's push weed for anxiety. It just made me worse when I tried it so stopped. It is a risky call. And weed is also a drug.. it does change perception.

There are no rock solid proven answers yet. I think with children, unless they are too sick to function safely at home, should be treated from home. But there are those who ARE dangerous and can't stay home.

I'm off the soap box!! ;)
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Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
Staff member
So sorry to you and your family are dealing with this right now. I could be wrong but I believe in a case such as your daughters’ it would be typical to get her stabilized on medication in the hospital and then the residential placement would be more for behavioral and coping issues she needs to work on. And the medication could be tweaked if needed.

So if I have it right then it sounds like your daughter is not stable on her medication currently. Seeing “black holes” stands out as a visual hallucination which could be a side effect from one of the medications or the anti-psychotic medication is not working for her for some reason. The other things you’ve mention could also mean she needs medication adjustments.

If I were you I think I’d investigate the medications so that I know what each one is for. Then I would speak to the doctor, or whole team if you can, about her symptoms, medication and why they think she should be going to a residential treatment center now. Why the particular residential treatment center and what other alternative ones there might be. I’d point blank ask them if they think she is stable on her medications and why. And then if they say this is the best they can do medication wise and don’t think she is stable I’d try to push for a different hospital for her. I don’t think someone who is not stable on medication for any illness belongs in a residential treatment center. She will need to be able to follow the rules there, not that she wants to but is able to.

If and when the time is right a residential treatment center could be a good thing for her but that depends on if it will be a better environment for her to move forward and mature. It takes a lot of considerations to figure that out, and you should have just as much input as the hospital staff. You have a right to check out any residential placements before she goes there. I think you can schedule a visit and see for yourself what the place is like, find out the daily schedule and their methods, if there is medical staff present and such.

I hope you get this all sorted out quickly.

I know a young man who went to a residential treatment center when he was around 13 for a year. He still had problems when he came out but a couple of months ago he told me he attributes his ability to schedule his day, work a job and take care of himself and his surroundings to that residential treatment center. It was a very good place, east coast, boys only. Before he went he would explode, throw things, put holes in walls and run away. Afterwards he was still a bit of a pita but that has even calmed down now. I think learning coping mechanisms and how to handle daily living in a very structured environment helped him greatly on the way to maturity and then he did the rest himself. But he was able to do what he needed to do there, and believe me he did not like it when he was there. He was not on medication there and does not take medication now.