A generation or two ago, mental health issues were not commonly understood or even discussed. Because of the mystery surrounding it, it was seen as something to be ashamed of or kept quiet. Today, medical breakthroughs in therapy and pharmaceuticals have gone a long way towards normalizing mental health issues. Today, we are told regularly that mental health disorders are the same as a physical illness and are not a cause for shame, however, some find the stigma hard to shake. It remains to be seen how society in general will view the subject in the future, but it is certain that those being treated for these issues are sometimes subjected to outdated and prejudiced views of their condition. Some people avoid accepting their situation or getting treatment because they worry about being branded as “crazy” or mentally or emotionally disabled.
This concern can also apply to parents considering placing their teen in a residential treatment program or therapeutic boarding school for a mental disorder or behavioral issues. They worry that the world will judge their child as broken, unreliable or unstable. While this is a valid concern to consider, this should not encourage any parent to delay getting their son the treatment he needs. By the time your son is at the point where you are considering full time therapeutic care, it is clear that he can’t get the intensive help he needs at home. Residential treatment programs are designed to immerse troubled teens in a 24 hour supportive environment dedicated to helping them identify and overcome the issues that are holding them back in day to day life.
One of the best ways to defeat the stigma with residential treatment programs and mental health in general is to be an advocate for your teen. Be open, honest and unapologetic when explaining to people why your son is receiving outside help. Take the time to educate them on the treatable and sometimes reversible nature of mental disorders and behavioral issues. Be open with your child and make sure he knows that what he is going through is not shameful. Being an advocate for him will also help him own the issues he is facing and gain enough confidence to educate others. The more awareness that can be spread, the more likely the stigma of mental health issues will vanish.
Liahona Academy is a residential treatment program located in southern Utah. We specialize in behavioral modification, treating troubled teen boys through a combination of therapy, academics and healthy recreation. If you would like to hear more about our program, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-675-8101.