Navigating the emotional rollercoaster of a teen's psychiatric hospitalization is undoubtedly challenging. The period post-discharge is as crucial as the time spent in the hospital, if not more. Here are ten ways to ensure a smooth transition and provide unwavering support for both your teen and yourself during this time:
Discharge Planning Meeting: Equip yourself with pertinent questions to ask during the discharge meeting with the hospital team. This preparation will help ensure that you understand the next steps and any recommendations from the hospital staff. Knowledge is empowering and provides a clearer path forward.
Therapy Sessions: If your teen isn't already connected with a therapist, it's crucial to have one scheduled to meet the day they get discharged. If they're already seeing someone, arrange a meeting before leaving the hospital to talk about ongoing safety and care planning.
Discuss Hospitalization with the Family: Open communication is vital. Talk with family members or anyone else living at home about the hospitalization, ensuring that everyone understands the situation and can provide a supportive environment. Give them pointers for what to say or not say during the days following your teen’s return.
Structured Routine: A predictable routine can be comforting. Schedule some structured activities, but also incorporate supervised time with trusted friends. This balance allows your teen to gradually adjust and reconnect with their social circle in a supportive environment.
School Reintegration: Reentering school can be stressful. Before your teen goes back, get in touch with their school counselor or another point person to devise a plan for a gradual return. This phased approach helps them reintegrate without feeling overwhelmed.
Safety Planning at Home: It's tempting to immediately dive into discussions about ongoing safety once your teen is back home. However, it's beneficial to let them settle first. After they've had some time to readjust, then talk about ongoing safety measures.
Personalized Communication over Screen Time: Encourage your teen to communicate more personally with friends and family. A phone call or face-to-face chat is more meaningful and beneficial than just texting or spending time on screens.
Set Clear Expectations: While it's crucial to maintain discipline, refrain from imposing too many rules or making drastic changes at home. Your child should know what to expect from you; consistency and predictability can be comforting during this period.
Co-sleeping to Re-attach: Depending on your comfort level and the age of your teen, consider co-sleeping for a night or two. This act can be a powerful gesture of support, showing that you're there for them, physically and emotionally. It could be a mattress by your bedside or a sibling willing to snuggle as a show of their support.
Your Own Support System: Lastly, remember that you need support too. Identify a person – be it a friend, relative, or therapist – who understands your situation and is available to respond quickly when you need to talk. Their timely support can be a lifeline during tough moments.
Remember that the road to recovery is a journey, not a destination. With patience, understanding, and the right support system, both you and your teen can navigate this challenging phase and come out stronger on the other side. Your unwavering love and support, combined with professional help, can make all the difference.