What are Assessment Centers?
There is no rulebook for mental illness; instead, it comes in all shapes and sizes. The numbers speak for themselves: approximately 20% of teens will experience at least one episode of depression before adulthood. Bipolar disorder affects over five million Americans yearly. Out of the 43% of children who experience trauma, 3%-15% of girls and 1%-6% develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Approximately 3.3 million people in the United States show signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. With recent advances in mental health awareness, professionals are now more equipped than ever to identify the various disorders that can affect a child’s brain. This is precisely where assessment centers come in – no longer does a parent have to wonder why their child is struggling; instead, they can have the comfort of knowing that the assessment center team will help stabilize, diagnose, and plan treatment for their adolescent.
Why Choose Assessment Centers for Your Teen?
Mental illness is elusive and, as such, properly diagnosing the issue can be tricky. Only too often, the best of intentions cause more harm than good – loved ones, school counselors, and even family doctors, for example, might all have a different opinion on the causes of a child’s issue. Unfortunately, this can complicate finding the true underlying problem. With everyone only privy to a fraction of the situation, the larger picture can go unnoticed. To this end, assessment centers offer a wide range of benefits. For one, up to 75% of teens who enter assessment centers have previously been misdiagnosed. Assessment centers guarantee a quick and accurate diagnosis, so that the proper treatment can begin.
Assessment centers are equipped in ways that a home environment, quite simply, is not. Assessment centers provide 24/7 assistance ensuring a teen’s safety. Whenever a struggling child needs help, assessment centers can provide the necessary support. A warm, respectful staff with years of experience helps allow every child gets the attention they deserve. State-of-the-art facilities at assessment centers allow for teens’ needs to be addressed thoroughly which, in turn, helps healing happen faster.
Although the stabilization period at assessment centers is typically shorter in length – most commonly, it does not exceed several weeks – this period serves as the all-important first step in beginning long-term treatment. Assessment centers work closely with parents to discuss potential future treatments. In a similar vein, close communication with parents allows everyone to be on the same page. Ultimately, the goal isn’t simply to put a label on a child’s issue and suppress the immediate symptoms; rather, the focus is on providing the entire family with ways to help eradicate the deeper issues in the long run.
When a child first arrives at an assessment center, they are observed by the psychiatric staff. Through a variety of methods – such as a depression test for teens – a preliminary diagnosis is formed. Then, as the assessment center team learns more about the child, the diagnosis is adjusted to match a child’s particular situation. As it happens, mental illness is rarely as clear-cut as a list of specific symptoms; in many situations, it is a combination of a variety of issues. Depression, for example, can be a symptom of bipolar disorder or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among many other things – including being a diagnosis in itself. The time it takes to get to know a child allows assessment centers to form a comprehensive overview of the issues at hand.
Assessment centers do more than simply stabilize and diagnose youth: in fact, they provide parents with clarity. Few things are harder for a parent than to see their child suffer. With the help of assessment centers, a parent can receive the answers they seek.
Finding Assessment Centers
While there are several assessment centers to choose from, their core values – kindness, professionalism, respect – are the same. The most significant differences typically lie in location and student profile (such as age, gender, or the severity of a child’s issues). Choosing the right assessment center helps individuals see that they are not alone in their struggles. This has multiple beneficial effects, from increasing the success of group therapy to building a sense of community. A child can make new friends and memories during their time of assessment.
Two prominent assessment centers include ViewPoint Center and Seven Stars. ViewPoint Center offers connections to numerous partner programs for extended therapeutic experiences, while Seven Stars – geared particularly toward children with neurodevelopmental disorders (diagnosed or not) – can provide long-term residential treatment as a continuation of its stabilization period.
Mental health assessments have become an inextricable part of identifying problems. “Self-assessments” can be found in virtually every health section of media outlets worldwide. However, self-assessments are a double-edged sword. On one hand, a self-assessment can highlight the existence of a problem – that is to say, by completing a self-assessment before a problem gets out of hand, it is more than possible to notice the presence of an issue. The earlier a problem is detected, the less damage it has a chance to do. The danger of self-assessments lies in their unreliability and vagueness. While it can help to notice certain mood changes, for instance, the exact diagnosis and proper treatment can only be provided by professionals. As such, while self-assessments can be a helpful guide, they are no replacement for assessment centers.
Improving the timeliness of mental health assessment for children and adults in a multidisciplinary team Evans, Nicola
“The waiting list for outpatient [mental health] appointments exceeded 12 months,” the article writes, as it discusses, “the development and implementation of a bespoke mental health assessment process that improved the timeliness of assessments for referred children and adolescents.” In truth, assessment centers provide the perfect middle ground. Not quite mental health hospitals (and far more inviting!), assessment centers allow adolescents to get the help they need without having to suffer needlessly – and provide the necessary resources for them to return to a healthy journey into the future.