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Having a child committed to a mental health facility can be scary and stressful experience -- for both the child involved -- and the parents. Committing a child to such a facility is typically the last resort in dealing with behavioral and mental health issues after other means have been exhausted.
Get a referral. If your child is in counseling or sees a psychiatrist, you should express your concerns to that person to find out what your options are. They are familiar with your child's issues and can make an appropriate referral to a local mental health facility. You can also talk to the child's doctor or school psychologist. If this is the first time your child has exhibited out of control behaviors and they are not seeing a counselor already, you can start by contacting your local mental health department for referrals.
Schedule an appointment. Once you have a facility referral, you should schedule an appointment with a staff psychologist or psychiatrist. The psychologist will complete an evaluation to determine if the child needs to be committed for health and safety reasons. They will ask you and the child questions about their thoughts and behavior, past diagnoses and medications used. If the psychologist determines that the child should be committed, you will need to sign consent forms.
Call 911. If your child is in an emergency situation, you should first call the police to have the child transported to the nearest mental health facility. If a child is violent or suicidal, call 911 or call the local facility's 24 hour hotline to have them evaluated immediately. Most states have laws mandating a 24-72 hour hold. This means a mental health facility can hold a person involuntarily for up to, but no more than, 72 hours -- if they are exhibiting signs that they are a threat to themselves or others.
Seek out private facilities. Because of budget issues and limited space available at many facilities, you may find it difficult to have your child committed to a state-run facility. If your child needs help right away, you will likely have better luck if you contact private mental health facilities. They tend to be expensive, but your child will generally be accepted more quickly and easily than at a public facility. Many facilities offer payment plans. Your health insurance may also cover some of the costs for your child's hospitalization and treatment.