They're Coming to Take Me Away, I Hope

07/22/2009 10:44

How do you tell your parents that you should be placed in a mental institution? -- Cheyenne

 What Mary Says...  What Crystal Says...

Dear Cheyenne:

Please ask for help NOW. Wherever your parents are in the house, walk right up to them and tell them you need help. Or call them. And don't stop until you get them on the phone and they understand how desperately you need help.
Please don't delay. And if you feel like you are going to harm yourself, call 800.SUICIDE or go to
Let us know how you are doing.







































Dear Cheyenne:


See, here are my thoughts. You’re asking how to tell your parents, but that one’s easy. You just tell them, and you tell them NOW. You march right up to them and say, ‘Rents, I need help. Any loving parent will be 100% supportive, especially since you have the foresight to ask. And if they’re not, I would highly recommend a school counselor or confiding in another family member. If you need help, you need to get it ASAP. But remember that being supportive doesn’t mean just whisking you away to go live in an institution. Unless there is history of mental struggle (and if there is, then saying something will be less of a shock and more of a “FINALLY” for your family), your parents are likely going to be uber-confused. All of which leads me to what I would focus on if you walked into my office and told me the same thing.

So here’s the thing. Mental institutions SUCK. They are NOT a fun place, nor are they a place to go to “relax” and just “get away from it all.” Not only that, but it’s really, really hard to get admitted into one unless you have lots of money and/or are severely mentally ill. In the 80’s, it was a lot easier (i.e. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).  But now, there’s just not enough room and not enough funding, and a lot of severely mentally ill people are relegated to outpatient treatment or group homes, either which could actually be a fit for you. So I’d want to know why you think you need an institution per se? Would regular therapy be sufficient? How about a temporary relief shelter? Do you feel like you’re a harm to yourself? To someone else? Why do you feel you need mental help? Are you stressed? Do you hear voices or see hallucinations? Are you depressed? All of these are the types of questions your parents will likely ask, as will any treatment center prior to being admitted. So it’s important to try to answer these questions to yourself prior to determining what treatment would be best for you.

Please realize I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask for help. You absolutely, positively should, and recognizing the need for it is an amazing, brave first step. You should be very proud, for yourself and your insight. I simply want to note that the world of mental help has grown remarkably and there are many, many options out there that might be a better fit for you than an institution. And I ask that you remain open to those alternatives when seeking and discussing treatment options with your parents.

I’d love to hear back on how things work out, Cheyenne. Please keep us posted!



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