top of page

When is it Time to Consider a Higher Level of Care (HLOC) for Your Loved One? A Guide for Parents

Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), substance abuse among other disorders and mental health struggles, are disorders that can interfere with a person’s ability to take care of themselves and function in their lives. Deciding when to send your child to a higher level of care is a very important decision that depends on various factors, including the severity of their condition, the level of support they require, and their safety. Although there is never a good time to make this decision and no parent wants to send their child away for treatment, a higher level of care can offer a great opportunity to build a solid foundation for recovery and provide a platform for success. Here are some indications that it may be time to consider a higher level of care for your child:

1.     Lack of Improvement: If your child's symptoms or condition are not improving despite consistent treatment efforts at their current level of care, it may indicate the need for a more intensive intervention. Receiving psychiatric care and counseling, medical and nutritional follow up under one roof can be not only convenient but also relieving. Knowing that your child is approached from a holistic perspective can provide a great sense of relief to parents.

2.     Safety Concerns: If your child's behavior poses a risk to themselves or others, or if they are experiencing thoughts of self-harm (i.e. cutting, burning) or suicide, it's crucial to prioritize their safety and consider a higher level of care where they can receive more intensive supervision and support. Safety also includes engaging in high risk behaviors that can lead to endangering their life by overdosing, driving under the influence, promiscuity, restricting their food intake, engaging in compulsive behavior that can affect their health, etc.

3.     Escalating Symptoms: If your child's symptoms are worsening or becoming more severe, such as increased frequency or intensity of mood swings, self-destructive behaviors, or substance use, it may be a sign that their current level of care is insufficient to address their needs and they need more support and containment.

4.     Medical or Psychiatric Crisis: In cases of medical emergencies or psychiatric crises, such as medical consequences associated with eating disorders, severe depression, manic episodes, or acute psychosis, immediate intervention at a higher level of care, such as a hospital or residential treatment center, may be necessary to stabilize your child's condition.

5.     Functional Impairment: If your child's mental health or behavioral issues significantly interfere with their ability to function in daily life, such as practicing basic self-care (i.e. shower, brush teeth, completing meals), attending school, or maintaining relationships, a higher level of care with more intensive therapeutic support may be warranted and can provide the support they need to address basic needs and responsibilities. Trained staff members know how to better respond and intervene to provide support.

6.     Lack of Available Support: If you, as a parent or caregiver, are unable to provide the level of support and supervision your child needs due to your own limitations or responsibilities, difficulties managing your emotions and expectations, seeking a higher level of care where trained professionals can provide round-the-clock care may be necessary.

7.     Persistent Relapse: If your child has experienced repeated relapses or setbacks in their recovery despite efforts to maintain stability, it may indicate the need for a more structured and intensive treatment environment to understand and address underlying issues and prevent further relapse.

Having a treatment team of specialized clinicians that includes a therapist, psychiatrist, medical doctor and dietitian can help you navigate the complexities associated with mental health concerns and help you determine when a higher level of care is necessary. A treatment team also will assess your child's individual needs and suggest the most appropriate level of care and treatment facility that will best meet their needs. Additionally, they will answer your questions, provide information on treatment centers, and support the transition. In this process it's important to involve your child in the decision-making process, to the extent possible, and considering their preferences and concerns. This can increase their motivation to participate and help ensure they feel supported and engaged in their treatment journey.

For more information about higher levels of care and treatment for eating disorders, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), substance abuse and trauma, please contact us today at or at 561.600.1424 for a FREE 30-minute consultation! With early intervention and appropriate support, individuals struggling with eating disorders can embark on the path to recovery and reclaim their health, body, and well-being. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available.

Below questions for treatment centers:

Questions for Treatment Centers
Download PDF • 153KB


bottom of page