Bipolar disorder can have a devastating impact on the lives of adolescents who are afflicted by this serious mental health issue. Adolescents who are subjected to the extreme emotional highs and crushing lows that are associated with bipolar disorder may feel as though they have lost the ability to exert even minimal control over their thoughts and emotions. Though the specific experiences will vary depending upon the type of the disorder (bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, or cyclothymic disorder) that the afflicted young person is dealing with, the all-too-common outcome of untreated bipolar disorder is that the adolescent is left with the overwhelming sense that he or she is engaged in a daily struggle to remain present and focused.
At Youth Care we recognize how troubling it can be for young people who are plagued by the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and we have developed specialized programming that incorporates both research-supported clinical advances and the specific insights that we have developed through more than 25 years of providing life-affirming mental and behavioral health services to adolescents.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
The impact of bipolar disorder is hardly limited to the person who has been diagnosed with the disorder. When the afflicted individual is an adolescent, parents and siblings are likely to be particularly affected. The steps described in the following can be valuable for parents of adolescents who are dealing with bipolar disorder:
- First, it is important for you to understand that the symptoms that your child is demonstrating are the result of a serious yet treatable mental health condition that impacts many adolescents and families throughout the nation and around the world. Once you realize that you are dealing with a mental health issue and not merely “bad behavior,” you will be prepared to pursue effective solutions.
- As is the case with most challenges, education is essential. Learn about how bipolar disorder impacts adolescents, research the types of treatment that have helped other young people, and locate programs that provide the care that seems best suited to meeting your child’s specific needs. Though your child’s pediatrician may not specialize in adolescent mental health, he or she can be an excellent resource for both information and potential referrals.
- Prepare yourself and your child for the realities of dealing with this challenge. The path of recovery from bipolar disorder is neither short nor straightforward, and you will experience both successes and setbacks along the way. Maintain focus on long-term progress, and leave no doubt in your child’s mind that he or she has your full support and undying love.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
For adolescents who are struggling with bipolar disorder, life can be a daily struggle. If these young people do not get the professional help that they need, the impact can resonate far beyond the immediate challenges of day-to-day life. For example, an adolescent with untreated bipolar disorder may find it difficult or virtually impossible to maintain healthy friendships and perform to his or her potential in school. These setbacks can undermine his or her ability to make the academic progress and learn the social lessons that can be critical to a healthy transition into adulthood. Also, adolescents who experience bipolar disorder are at increased risk for abusing alcohol or other drugs, behaving in a reckless or dangerous manner, developing an impaired sense of self-worth, engaging in self harm, and experiencing thoughts of suicide. Although these potential negative effects can be devastating, with proper treatment, it is possible for adolescents to minimize or avoid many of these painful and disruptive outcomes.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
Youth Care offers residential treatment for adolescents, aged 11 to 17, who are battling the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Here at Youth Care, we are dedicated to providing treatment in a structured, home-like setting that offers a family atmosphere for adolescents as they work towards recovering from the concerns that plague them. By implementing individualized programming that is tailored to meet each adolescent’s unique needs, the treatment delivered at Youth Care is comprehensive and is designed to promote true and lasting healing.
The residential program here at Youth Care is founded on the principles of respect, accountability, and responsibility. Our staff uses a level system with students so that they can provide constructive feedback as students learn how to demonstrate respect and behave in appropriate ways. In doing so, students earn various privileges and increased levels of trust. We believe that the connection between privileges, accountability, trust, and responsibility is an invaluable lesson that will serve to benefit our students for the rest of their lives.
When adolescents are entrusted into our care for the treatment of bipolar disorder, they will be provided with various therapeutic interventions, which may include the following:
Medication management: When treating the symptoms of bipolar disorder, the use of certain psychotropic medications is an instrumental part of alleviating the distress that an adolescent is experiencing. The use of any medication, however, is always determined on a student-by-student basis, depending on each youth’s individual circumstances. Meetings with a psychiatrist occur on a weekly basis, and Youth Care’s nursing and medical teams will assist in handling all medication management needs.
Individual therapy: The use of individual therapy is a very important aspect of the treatment offered at Youth Care. Students will meet with their primary therapists three times every week and can also meet with an addictions counselor once each week if they are struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Group therapy: At Youth Care, the use of group therapy is a major component of our students’ overall treatment plans. Various group sessions are held on a daily basis and can play an instrumental role in helping our students learn to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The different types of groups that are offered as part of programming include the following:
- Process groups
- Dialectical behavior therapy groups
- Music therapy groups
- Recreational therapy groups
- Addictions groups
Family therapy: The role of our students’ families is crucial in helping them recover from or learn how to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Keeping this in mind, we, at Youth Care, are dedicated to ensuring that the family members of our students are actively involved in the therapeutic process. The primary therapist for each student will conduct family therapy sessions once each week, and Parent Days are held every 6 to 8 weeks. Parent Days include a variety of therapeutic activities, including multifamily group therapy, parent support groups, family recreational activities, family therapy sessions, and educational seminars.
Recreational therapy: Recreational therapy plays another integral role in the therapeutic experience at Youth Care. Throughout our years of experience, we have found that participation in recreational activities gives adolescents a valuable opportunity to learn important life skills, including problem solving, communication, teamwork, and trust. Additionally, we have found that recreational therapy can enhance the self-esteem of our students as they develop new interests and discover talents that they did not previously know they possessed. Participating in these recreational activities also aids in enriching other types of skillsets as well, including coping skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and social skills. Our licensed recreational therapist guides and supervises students as they participate in both community and in-house recreational activities 3 to 7 times each week.
Experiential therapy: Students who are receiving treatment for bipolar disorder may also participate in various experiential therapies throughout the duration of their time spent at Youth Care. Examples of the experiential options that students may engage in include situational therapy, expressive therapy, and exposure therapy. Their primary therapists will work with them to determine when these therapies may be most appropriately implemented.
Community service activities: Participation in community service activities occurs at least twice every month for students at Youth Care. They will have the opportunity to take part in various types of activities, which may include visiting the elderly, caring for animals at the Humane Society, and filling shelves at the Food Bank. These experiences allow students to develop a sense of empathy towards and an understanding of others. This, in turn, can aid them as they, themselves, continue to grow and progress in their treatment.
Academics: Knowing how important education is, Youth Care has a fully accredited academic program that meets from 9:00am to 5:00pm each weekday. This program allows students to receive all of the benefits of a traditional education while also having therapeutic interventions included in their daily schedules. The curriculum is led by special education teachers and secondary education teachers, all of whom have experience and have been trained in working with youth who have varying learning abilities. When adolescents receive treatment for bipolar disorder at Youth Care, they will not have to worry about falling behind academically because they will be able to earn school credits and achieve any academic goals they have, including graduating high school.
In addition to the treatment that is offered through our residential programming here at Youth Care, we are also pleased to offer partial hospitalization programming (PHP) for students suffering from the symptoms of bipolar disorder. This option for day treatment allows adolescents to experience the same type of daily programming that students in the residential program receive, while being able to return home at the end of the day.
If your child is battling the symptoms of bipolar disorder and is in need of comprehensive treatment that will be tailored to meet his or her specific needs, look no further than Youth Care. Our caring and compassionate staff will dedicate themselves to ensuring that your child develops the skills necessary to successfully overcome the struggles that are plaguing him or her and move forward towards the bright and happy future that he or she deserves.