Mental health services for children with bipolar disorder are typically well provided in an outpatient setting. For most children with bipolar disorder, the use of medications and therapy are effective and rarely is inpatient mental health hospitalization required. However, there may be times when your child simply needs the care and attention of inpatient mental health services. If your child has been admitted, it is important to know what you, as a parent, can do to make the transition more effective.
Admission of your child, into a mental health facility, is no doubt a very emotional time for you. To make the transition and emotional distress slightly less of an impact, you will want to find ways in which you can become supportive in your child’s care. Because your child will require some basic necessities while staying in a mental health facility, you can find a supportive role in preparing your child’s bags with the essentials needed while they are treating for bipolar disorder.
In your child’s hospital bag, it will be important to have clothing, toiletries and any medications your child will need. Typically in the inpatient treatment of children with bipolar disorder, the inpatient stay may only be two to three days. As a result, you will want to pack clothes and medications for this time span. But, in addition to these essentials, there may be other items you can include.
Additional supportive items for your child’s hospital bag may include pictures of family members, security blankets, or even your child’s favorite toy or stuffed animal. It will be important, however, to ask the hospital staff what they will allow on the premises as many facilities will want to control what outside exposures your child will have while a patient in their facility.
Once you’ve packed your child’s things, you can then move to taking a supportive role by coordinating your child’s care in preparation for discharge from the mental health facility. Often, when children are discharged from a mental health center, they will require immediate follow-up within 24 hours of discharge and this is no exception for children with bipolar disorder. So, to provide support, ask the staff what you can do to help coordinate appointments with therapists, doctors, or what medications you can arrange to have filled so you will be ready for your child’s return home after their inpatient treatment for bipolar disorder.
Sources: Parenting a Bipolar Child, by Gianni L. Faedda, MD, pp. 248-249.