Yes, there ARE more residential programs!
Many months ago this blog had a couple of posts (6, 16) lamenting that residential programs for teens and young adults with mental health challenges were scarce – at least, I couldn’t find many – and expensive. The “expensive” part is still holding up, but recently I have learned about several more programs. How satisfying it is to find what you’ve been looking for!
The path to this discovery started years ago in, of all places, a waiting room.
In this case, the waiting room was shared by a psychiatrist and an educational counselor. Waiting rooms are usually lacking in charm, but one potential point in their favor are the magazines we might not see otherwise. The issues of Psychology Today on the side table here had many articles I found interesting, about everyday psychology as well as the types of things we were in that waiting room for. I ended up making this one of the few magazines we subscribe to.
The current issue has a special section called “Treatment and Program Guide” in the back, presenting information on 40 facilities in the US that offer treatment for substance abuse. Thankfully, our family is not confronted with addiction, but I flipped through the section anyway. And, Eureka! While some of the facilities specialize in addictions of various sorts, others treat “co-occurring disorders” or those with “dual diagnosis” (both of these terms mean mental health challenges occurring along with addiction), and in some, treatment is targeted for young people like those who are the focus of this blog.
Some of the places in the Treatment and Program Guide that serve young people are therapeutic boarding schools. Some of these schools also offer a transition program for those who have finished high school. Other programs don’t have a school per se, but provide transition support for the teens/young adults to learn how to get along in life while they work or attend local colleges/trade schools. The participants share apartments in a community setting with lots of guidance from therapists, psychologists/psychiatrists, life coaches, and others.
For those of us who aren’t fabulously wealthy, the big challenge is cost: these programs tend to run several thousand dollars either side of $10,000 a month, usually with a minimum of three months. In my opinion the charges are probably reasonable considering what is offered and what can be gained: the transformation of our troubled, drifting young person to a functional young adult. We would hope health insurance would cover a good chunk of the expense, but for the most part we would be wrong. These programs range from totally not being covered to “maybe you can get reimbursed”. (Can’t help noticing that the treatment centers for addiction and eating disorders DO tend to be covered by insurance, but those dealing with mental health or autism spectrum challenges generally ARE NOT).
Anyway, here is what was happened since I made this discovery: I emailed three of the schools/treatment centers serving the Cinder Cone-like young people. One has not responded; another sent an automatic email with a couple of brochures attached, and the promise to follow up with me; and the admissions director from the third place called me back and graciously answered my questions. I’ll feature that treatment center in at least one future blog post, since I gained a lot of information to share, plus I may have a conversation in the future with that program’s executive director.
And finally, I went to the Psychology Today website and explored the Find a Treatment Center page. This resource has many more programs than those featured in the latest issue of the magazine. I entered our ZIP code – and found a very appropriate program less than 5 miles away! I’d never heard of it, and none of the professionals we’ve seen in the area ever mentioned it. I’ve sent an email to this program a little while ago.
By the way, here’s one resource the admissions director mentioned in our phone call: there is an organization called NATSAP, the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. Click the link to their website to find lots of useful information. I especially like the “For Parents” section, including “Questions to Ask” and “Selecting a Program”. It turns out you can (and maybe should) hire a professional to find the best program for your family’s needs. I didn’t know such professionals existed – they may be the topic for another blog post, once I learn more about them!
It’ll be exciting to continue learning and sharing about these programs. Anybody reading this who’s had experience with such a program, either on the staff or on the receiving end of the services: I’d love to hear about your experiences!