Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that is characterized by symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, incoherent speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, and diminished emotional expression. About 1% of the population will be impacted by schizophrenia, with symptoms often becoming evident in the mid-teens. In adolescents, schizophrenia often manifests with such symptoms as irritability and depression, confusion, suspicion and paranoia, changes in personal habits, and a high degree of distractibility. Schizophrenia can have a devastating impact on an adolescent, and although this disorder cannot be cured, its symptoms can be managed, often via a combination of medication and therapy.
At Youth Care, we have been providing life-affirming mental health services to young people for more than a quarter of a century, and during that time we have developed specific insights and unique understandings related to adolescent schizophrenia. As a result, we have been able to design effective programming that has proven to be extremely beneficial in the effort to help young people with schizophrenia manage their symptoms and resume their pursuit of healthy and promising futures.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
Adolescent schizophrenia can have a profound impact on parents as well as on the afflicted young person. If you suspect that your child may be dealing with schizophrenia, the time to act is now. Please consider the following:
- Understand that this situation is not hopeless, and that you are not alone. Thousands of parents, adolescents, and families find themselves in similar situations every year, and those who get help are able to significantly improve the quality of the young person’s life.
- Consult with a qualified mental health professional. Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition, and adolescents who may be struggling with this disorder should be evaluated by an expert.
- Remain calm and resist the urge to panic or place blame. Schizophrenia is no one’s fault. It is not evidence of poor parenting or a lack of character. Though the disorder may manifest through strange, confusing, and/or worrisome behaviors, this problem is not one of bad behavior. Your child has an illness that requires effective professional intervention.
- Find out the types of treatment that have helped others who are experiencing symptoms similar to what your child is going through.
- Identify programs that provide the type and level of care that appear to be best suited to meeting your child’s needs. Review the programs’ websites, talk to staff members on the phone, and arrange for in-person meetings and tours. Find the program that feels like the best fit for your child and your family.
Prepare yourself and your child for the realities of dealing with this challenge over the long-term. Maintain focus on 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
It is difficult to overstate the degree of devastation that untreated schizophrenia can have on a young person’s life. Without proper professional intervention, an adolescent who has schizophrenia will struggle with emotional responsiveness and social cognition and is likely to withdraw and become isolated. Schizophrenia impacts memory, executive brain functions, attention, and the ability to process information, which can make it virtually impossible for an adolescent to make progress in school. These cognitive impairments, combined with social damage and schizophrenia’s impact on motivation and judgment, can undermine a young person’s efforts to have anything resembling a normal and healthy adolescence. Adolescents who do not receive proper care for schizophrenia are likely to experience long-lasting damage to their cognitive, emotional, and social wellbeing and will be at significantly increased risk for substance abuse, depression, interpersonal conflicts, self-harm, social ostracization, and suicidal ideation. Fortunately, by engaging in effective treatment, these detriments can be successfully overcome or avoided altogether.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
Youth Care offers residential treatment for adolescents, aged 11 to 17, who are battling the symptoms of schizophrenia. Here at Youth Care, we are dedicated to providing treatment in a structured, home-like setting that offers a family-like 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 schizophrenia, they will be provided with various therapeutic interventions, which may include the following:
Medication management: When treating the symptoms of schizophrenia, there are times when certain psychotropic medications may be implemented that could serve as a beneficial means 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 schizophrenia. The different types of groups that are offered as part of programming include the following:
- Recreational therapy group
- Dialectical behavior therapy groups
- Music therapy groups
- Addictions groups
- Process groups
Family therapy: The role of our students’ families is crucial in helping them recover from or learn how to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia. 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 atYouth 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 schizophrenia 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 with and have been trained in working with youth who have varying learning
abilities. When adolescents receive treatment for schizophrenia 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 schizophrenia. 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 schizophrenia 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.