Mental Health Monday–Length of Stay for Teens


I was SO stoked when Georgia McBride of YALITCHAT.ORG and Month9Books fame asked me to answer some writerly psych questions.

One question was (paraphrased):

How long would a 16 year old with “hallucinations” be hospitalized on an inpatient psych unit? 


Inpatient hospitalizations for children vary from a few days to 30 days (sometimes more, depending on the severity of symptoms). Reasons for hospitalizing a child include: out of control behavior, self-injurious behavior, suicidal ideation/gestures, and aggressive/assaultive behavior toward others. 

If the child has severe and chronic symptoms that don’t significantly improve with extended hospitalization, the child may be discharged to a long-term facility to live and go to school. If the child has broken the law, they may be sent to a juvenile detention center (those stays can be months to years).

It’s important to remember that once the child becomes stable, they would need to be discharged with outpatient treatment set up for them. Without it, they’d be at risk of relapsing (having recurrence of symptoms). 

Remember, these posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as treatment or advice. 

Check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah’s The Strangest Situation for more medical and psych related topics!

12 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Length of Stay for Teens

  1. Great question by GA! Thanks for sharing the information.

  2. roguemutt says:

    That’s good to know.

  3. mhbenton says:

    It is a good topic for discussion but as a layman, it raises more questions than it answers. I understand you use terms like “out of control behavior” with specificity but is there a way to distinguish between a teen being a teen and the behavior you speak of? At what point is it considered crossing the even horizon?

    • mhbenton says:

      that last part should read “event horizon”

    • lbdiamond says:

      Excellent point. There is room for interpretation. Generally, kids will be hospitalized when their behavior poses a risk of harm to themselves and/or others, when their behavior escalates, and/or if the behavior is extreme.

  4. Vicki Tremper says:

    Interesting and helpful, as usual. Thanks, Laura!

  5. Karen Lange says:

    Interesting, thanks, Laura!

  6. Linda Gray says:

    Very interesting. Part of what interests me is that a sixteen-year-old is considered a child. Hallucinations are certainly in the very scary category for any age.

    • lbdiamond says:

      Ah, yes. Let me be more specific. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry encompasses young kids and teens. In this case, since the “patient” is a teen, it would be consider Adolescent Psychiatry.:)

  7. Hmmm…makes me think someone is doing research for a fictional character.

  8. Lynn Rush says:

    Awesome post. Very interesting.

  9. Lydia K says:

    Ooh, great question and answer!
    Hey, look! You’re no longer a cat! I knew it.:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s