If you read the laws on mental health/hospitalization this phrase will come up over and over again – clear and present danger (CAPD).
Ok. So without printing all the laws that no one will read let’s look at some practicalities. DISCLAIMER: I am not a health care professional. I am not a lawyer or a judge. I am sharing from personal experience. This is also from my experience in Pennsylvania – other states may be different. If you find an error, please note in comments.
If your child is 14 or older you cannot force them into counseling, therapy, hospitalization or medications against their will unless there is CAPD.
What are some examples of CAPD? Attempted suicide. Self induced personal injury. Planned out threats after the previous attempts.
If your 14+ child makes planned threats in school, the school will make them go to a hospital for evaluation. This evaluation lasts for about an hour by a social worker. It is 100% subjective and costs approximately $1,000. Normally the kids get a pat on the back and are told they will be fine. If there is a ruling of CAPD then the real fun begins. A hospital employee then spends several hours trying to find a “bed” in a suitable facility. In Lancaster County, where I live, there are no beds for adolescent mental patients. The closest facility is 45 minutes away. If they are full (which they always are) your next choice is an hour away (full), 2 hours away (full), 3 hours away (maybe – oh, sorry they’re full too). Do you want to search farther????
No I don’t want to search farther. Well, in that case you can take your son/daughter home even though there is evidence of CAPD and try to get in an outpatient program. Strike that. The outpatient program is full too. You can get on a waiting list that starts at 6 months+.
One year goes by. Your child is still alive but the situation is getting worse. You finally get in the program and your child who is barely surviving comes home and shares really cool ways to hurt themselves and others. It’s like a masochist show and tell.
Ok, you’re depressed now so we’ll jump to calling 911. Hopefully you will be in a town with a local police department that can relate to what you are going through. It may not help but it is comforting. On the other hand, if you are in an area serviced by the state police, ummm good luck. Every responder will be different and 1) won’t really care unless someone has really been hurt or killed, 2) will blame you the parent instead of the child, 3) will inform you that nothing can be done until the child really hurts someone. Threats don’t count.
I’ll stop there for now and let it absorb. Let your mind run – it really is that bad. I am posting this in my mission blog which is normally for devotions. But since this blog has the personal sharings about our son Isaiah I decided to keep it here.