You’re Daughter’s Admitted…To A Psychiatric Hospital !!!

As a Mom, it’s hard to not worry or be scared at the thought of your college-aged daughter being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Worse yet, did you also know there are things that mental health clinicians don’t want you to know about the admissions process?


In this blog, I cover 3 secrets clinicians don’t want to tell you. Knowing these secrets will help you and your collegiate daughter if she ever has to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital unit.


Secret #1: Parents Don’t Have A Right To Know


Here’s the big thing you as a mom must understand about this secret: Once your daughter is “age of majority” (18 years old & older), her medical and psychiatric information is private.


This means that you will need to be okay with not knowing what’s going on with your daughter while she is being admitted and during her stay at the hospital. Information about her cannot be released unless she signs a release form that gives you access.


Keeping this secret in mind is critical to you successfully navigating the psychiatric admissions process because you will feel scared. That scared feeling will lead you to press for answers. Not getting the answers will make you feel like people are withholding information from you–which they are. And experiencing such withholding will cause you to thing that noone cares about your child.

As a result, you will feel frustrated and start exhibiting behavior that may not be helpful to your daughter in the short- (or long-) run.


My suggestion to you is to make sure that you talk with your daughter ahead of time about navigating hospital systems. Express that it would be helpful for her to sign a release form for her doctors to discuss her information with you. Additionally, emphasize that you are not seeking to pry but to be able to help her navigate the hospital systems so she can get the best course of treatment.


Secret #2: Your Safety Is Not Important


Your daughter’s safety is most important in that moment of being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Even if you’re not able to access your daughter’s information, the clinicians have access to it.  Their focus is to do everything they can to keep your daughter safe.

Why? Beyond compassionate and caring reasons, mental health clinicians are legally and ethically obligated to do what’s in the best interest of your daughter. So, it is her safety –not your feelings–that is of paramount concern to psychiatric staff.


Since the focus is on your daughter, things may seem to proceed more slowly. Time moves slowly when a mom feels like there is nothing she can do. Additionally, without you having access to information about your daughter, it can feel as if noone cares about her specifically. Don’t worry. They are endeavoring to take care of her.


What will spell the difference between a (relatively) positive and negative experience is the degree to which you make the situation less or more complicated, respectively. It may be hard to manage your emotions due to the heightened intensity of the situation. Internally, you may even feel like things are falling apart, or that noone is taking the time to personally attend to everything you think your daughter needs.


However, time is what the clinical staff needs to attend to your daughter to make sure she is not only safe. They are also working to make sure she has the resources needed to support herself through the recovery process.


In light of that then, you will need to exercise patience. Be kind and respectful to the clinical staff, and make sure you have your own set of personal resources for support during this time.


Secret #3: The Experience Of Hospitalization May Be Dehumanizing


An aspect of psychiatric hospitalization that’s often not mentioned is the dehumanizing aspect of it. As a licensed clinical psychologist, having had to initiate hospitalizations for college students and having worked at an in-patient hospital psychiatric unit receiving those admitted, there is but so much that a hospital can do make the experience “pleasant.”  Everyone responds to the process differently.


It’s important to understand that treating someone who is not able to keep themselves safe is a delicate process. A physical laceration may warrant an emergency room visit. In the ER, medical doctors  may need to expose the injury site to clean and sew up the wound. Similarly, a severe psychological “wound” may require mental health doctors/clinicians to sift through information and to delve into family areas.


Why All The Questions?

Mental health clinicians ask questions that may feel intrusive or insulting but which still need to be examined. Data gathering helps clinicians “sew up” your daughter’s “wound.” Once she is “stabalized,” the clinicians will discharge her to receive further ongoing care elsewhere.

This is key for every mom to know. Why? Because mental health clinicians may ask about and/or assess your daughter’s responses with a fine(r) tooth comb. They do this in order to tease out:

  1. what is currently occurring,
  2. the factors may have contributed and/or may be contributing to her current condition, and
  3. what resources she will need to facilitate her treatment and recovery.

Once these things are determined and agreed upon, then your daughter can be discharged.


The best thing you can do is to be an open, non-judgmental, affirming presence for your daughter. This will help her tremendously during and after her release from the psychiatric hospital.

Summary Of Secrets

Clinicians, during the admissions process, don’t have the time to discuss and explain the secrets that:

  1. Parents don’t have a right to know.
  2. Your safety is not important.
  3. The experience of hospitalization can be dehumanizing.

So, they just don’t tell you.

But, now that you know these 3 secrets about psychiatric admissions, you can better help your daughter.


Need more help with your daughter? Looking to set a good foundation in your relationship to avoid a possible hospitalization situation?

Or, if you really want to not worry or be scared, this link to my personalized training program to help you, mom, with your daughter. “The Life Mirror Remedy® (TLMR®) Personal Training Program” will give you tailored tools and strategies! Check it out here 


©Dr. Michelle Deering | All rights reserved.


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