How to Plan for Your Child's Discharge From a Psychiatric Hospitalization

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 02, 2022
4 min read

Bringing a child home from psychiatric hospitalization is a positive step, but it can also bring about feelings of anxiety around ensuring your child’s well-being. The doctors have determined that it's safe for your child to return home. But it’s natural to want the best for them and go the extra mile to make them comfortable in their natural environment, where they’ll be without the routine that helped them recover.

Once your child has undergone psychiatric care, it’s crucial to identify the next steps and make the necessary arrangements after discharge to enable a smooth transition. You should begin planning for the discharge after psychiatric hospitalization right from when your child is admitted to the psychiatric facility. This article details the steps involved in this critical phase.

Doctors recommend psychiatric hospitalization when they feel your child needs a safe environment to help them recover. This usually happens when your child’s mental disorder can’t be treated at their home for any of the following reasons:

  • They have erratic behavior
  • They show potential to harm themselves or others around them
  • The symptoms of the condition become severe

Although psychiatric hospitalization is not necessary for every child with mental health symptoms, doctors closely monitor the situation and recommend hospitalization when it becomes essential. In such cases, doctors usually suggest admitting your child to a psychiatric hospital, meaning professional care for your child under the supervision of medical experts.

Once your child has completed their treatment, the next step is planning their discharge. While parents look forward to bringing their child home from psychiatric hospitalization, it also brings added responsibility. Creating a safe space for your child at home, making sure friends and peers accept them, and constantly fearing relapse are common concerns during this period.

While getting discharged from the hospital is a positive step, you should keep certain factors in mind to ease the transition and help your child reap the benefits of treatment.

  • Open dialogue. Recognize how your child feels about being discharged from the hospital and discuss any potential concerns they may have about returning home.
  • Medications. If your child’s doctor has prescribed medicines to help with the treatment, you should follow the recommended dosage. If your child needs daytime medications in school, plan a joint effort with your doctor and school authorities. Your child should follow the medication schedule, as avoiding it could lead to problems with relationships and attending school.
  • Going back to school. One of the most common fears children face after getting discharged from a psychiatric hospital is the thought of being rejected by friends and peers. If your child’s friends don’t know the real reason for their long absence from school, it’s better to have an open discussion and come up with a plan that explains the absence. This is a critical step in your child’s discharge. Sometimes, a child’s sensitivity in social situations could cause irritability and prevent them from developing friendships or meaningful interactions.
  • Keep things normal. While your child may take some time to get back to the activities that were normal for them before hospitalization, talk to them to know what they can handle. Give them the time and space they need to get back into a routine without rushing them. It’s best to inform your child’s school about the reason for your child’s long absence. You can involve some staff, like the nurse, psychologist, social worker, or other medical staff, as they may be able provide some resources and references if the need arises. You can work with them to ease your child’s return to school.
  • Plan to protect. The fear of relapse is very real. Discuss with your doctor what steps you can take to avoid a relapse of the symptoms that led to the initial hospitalization and design a safety plan that covers all bases. You can practice a plan with your child before discharge to check its effectiveness.
  • Follow-up appointments. Ask your doctor for a follow-up schedule after your child’s discharge. Take note of this schedule and make sure you take your child to the doctor for further assessment. Follow-up care is critical to give your child the best chance of long-term recovery.

Doctors typically recommend hospitalization to stabilize your child’s condition. Treatments primarily focus on improving their chances of a safe return home to live a meaningful life. Even after your child's discharge, ongoing care is vital for complete recovery and the treatment's long-term effectiveness.

Keep some of the following points in mind when your child is getting discharged from psychiatric hospitalization to understand what you can expect during this critical juncture.

  • Ask your doctor who will make the decision to discharge your child from the hospital and the factors that will shape this decision.
  • Note and adhere to your doctor’s recommendations for follow-up treatments after your child’s discharge.
  • If your child had suicidal tendencies before hospitalization, monitor them closely, and don’t hesitate to contact the doctor if you notice signs of suicidal tendencies.
  • Ask your doctor who can help you if your child’s symptoms reappear. If necessary, get their contact details.
  • Track your child’s progress by taking notes about their behavior and how they respond to their medications. Discuss any possible side effects the medications may have with your doctor. Keep track of the notes you take and bring any points of concern to your doctor’s notice.
  • Learn from the doctor what behavior you can expect from your child after discharge. Your child may have gone through some intense emotional trauma in the days leading up to their hospitalization. Anxiety and embarrassment are common emotions, and it’s essential to make your child understand that it’s normal to feel this way.
  • Constantly worrying about your child’s welfare can take a toll on you physically and mentally. Taking care of your mental health during this time is vital. Get support from family and friends or talk to your therapist to help manage your stress.