For many people, particularly those inexperienced with mental illness, the perception of inpatient mental health care in the United States is largely based on popular culture. The stereotypes certainly don’t bring reassurances. From barbaric treatments employed in the early days of mental health issues to the depiction of disturbed patients in straight jackets, many people, even those who need treatment, have the wrong idea about what inpatient care looks like.
Films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs explore the idea of psychiatric care, and, unfortunately, do a poor job of it. These kinds of pop culture presentations are far more hurtful than helpful.
In reality, residential mental health treatment is nothing like an old-school sanitarium; instead, it provides effective, customized opportunities for wellness. In modern facilities, there is no flickering lighting, angry nurses, padded rooms, or twisted treatments. Patients can experience compassionate care designed to make a difference. Mental health rehabilitation is an opportunity for people to get the care they need. It’s always beneficial for patients in high-risk and severe situations to receive inpatient care. However, it also helps men and women battling mental illness to gain stability and control over their health right away.
This is what you need to know about time spent in an inpatient mental health treatment facility.
What Is Inpatient Mental Rehab?
Inpatient mental rehab is not what the movies portray it to be. It’s an uplifting, positive experience for most people.
The most important aspect is the security it provides. When you are there, you are safe.
A variety of options exist for inpatient care, including hospital settings, psychiatric hospitals and regional medical centers. Residential mental health environments typically provide a comfortable, modern setting with the very best level of supportive services.
Inpatient mental rehab provides:
- A safe location for doctors to immediately help you with your mental health disorder
- A way to properly medicate or detox your body to stabilize it
- Medical support for any health risks you may have
- Initial and ongoing mental health treatment
- Holistic treatment to help improve your quality of life
Every location is a bit different. At FHE Health, we aim to provide the proper foundation for you to begin your new life through inpatient mental rehab.
The Types of Mental Inpatient Care
It is important to note that inpatient care comes in two distinctly different forms: voluntary and involuntary.
Involuntary commitment is more closely aligned with general perceptions. In these facilities, individuals do not enter of their own free will; instead, they are ordered there by courts or law enforcement professionals.
Numerous states have laws that allow people who appear to be a harm to themselves or others to be committed to a psychiatric hospital, usually for three days, but potentially longer depending on the circumstances. The best known of these laws is Florida’s Baker Act, to the point that it’s occasionally used as a verb to describe involuntary commitment.
These kinds of facilities are generally locked down to prevent patients from leaving and may involve additional protections to keep residents safe, such as surveillance video in every room. These restrictions are particularly needed if they were deemed to be a danger to others or themselves. In some cases, care may be provided contrary to a patient’s wishes.
Some facilities have very strict rules, including the prohibition of electronic devices and anything that could be considered a weapon. Schedules are generally very structured, and loved ones can only visit during preset hours.
The extent of the restrictions in place in a facility can vary greatly depending on the specific nature of an individual’s admission. Oversight is very common as well; it is rare to have time alone, and most patients are heavily monitored at all hours of the day.
Unlike involuntary care, voluntary commitment is willing. When an individual determines that their mental health is interfering with work, school or relationships in an unsustainable way, entering into a program may be the best option. These treatment centers help patients address mental health concerns without the stressors of daily life in a safe, secure and supportive environment.
Voluntary programs are less regimented than involuntary programs, but the structure is similar. When the goal is recovery, the journey understandably follows the same general path, so options like counseling and encouraging healthy habits are promoted during voluntary as well as involuntary treatment.
In a voluntary facility, patients can leave of their own volition. This is discouraged, particularly when in the midst of a course of care, but there is no way to stop residents from checking out against medical advice. Some states require a case petition before permitting such a leave.
What to Expect in Inpatient Mental Health Treatment
Inpatient mental health programs differ in treatment services and exact methodology, but some things tend to be similar from one program to another, both voluntary and involuntary. In general, this is what happens in a mental hospital.
Structure and Scheduling
Structure is very important in treatment programs of all kinds and tends to be featured heavily in inpatient mental health care. To facilitate results, residents are held to a strict schedule during the day in a mental hospital.
The day usually starts with time to shower, get dressed and get ready for breakfast. After breakfast, residents may engage in quiet time to read, journal or participate in a group therapy session.
TV time or an exercise break may occur before lunch. After lunch, residents may engage in another group session, individual counseling, exercise or recess, a meeting with a doctor or more quiet time. Some programs incorporate holistic treatments such as art therapy, yoga or music lessons, so these may be featured on the schedule as well.
After dinner, most programs allow for recreational time, like watching TV or movies, before bed. Lights out is also scheduled to make sure residents get adequate sleep.
Day-to-day, programming and scheduling change slightly, but the structure will be roughly the same. This approach may seem restrictive, but it is designed to provide a stable foundation for those going through therapy.
Encouragement of Healthy Habits
When in the midst of struggles with mental health, it’s not uncommon for healthy habits to fall by the wayside. Diet gets worse, exercise habits cease, sleeping becomes disrupted and self-care stops being important. Getting back on the right track is often a central part of a treatment program.
Most programs, both voluntary and involuntary, put a large emphasis on restoring healthy habits. A clean, healthy diet high in nutrients is encouraged while sleep is scheduled so that each resident gets at least eight hours.
Some programs also emphasize exercise or physical therapy so that residents benefit from the endorphins that come with exercise. While exercise is not necessarily a cure for mental illness, studies indicate that regular physical activity can support treatment in disorders like anxiety and depression.
Tackling these basics can go a long way in overall wellness, helping residents get into a better headspace while approaching treatment.
Customized Treatment Plans
Therapy isn’t one-size-fits-all, and that includes inpatient rehabilitation. While some programs may use roughly the same concepts with all patients, others are deeply committed to creating a customized plan of action.
Many treatment programs hold an initial individual session upon admission. In this assessment, trained psychologists or psychiatrists work to gain a deeper understanding of the condition or conditions at hand, past life experiences that may influence a diagnosis, prior attempts at treatments, medical history, medications in use and anything else that may affect a course of patient care. This information is then used to develop a treatment plan.
Group therapy is generally not customized — some facilities may run groups specific to disorders or symptoms; others may involve all patients — but individual counseling is. In these sessions, psychologists work closely to teach coping mechanisms, utilize proven therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and otherwise do what is necessary to help patients see an improvement in symptoms.
What Are the Benefits of Inpatient Mental Rehab?
You may not want to be away from family or friends. You may worry about your job.
However, inpatient mental rehab provides an opportunity to give you fast, effective treatment customized to your needs. There are other benefits of this care.
Your Focus Is on Your Recovery
As an inpatient, you can step away from your day-to-day responsibilities to focus on your mental health. This includes personal relationships. By focusing on self-care, you can gain ground in improving your health so that you can then provide for the needs of others properly.
Your Triggers Are Removed
Triggers are acts, locations or other stimuli that can make it hard for you to manage your mental health disorder. It may be a specific person or situation.
By removing yourself from triggers and residing in a stress-free environment, you can enter recovery more effectively. That also means developing strategies to deal with those triggers effectively.
You Receive Daily, Customized Therapy
To create the foundation for your recovery, you work with your team of therapists on a daily basis. No time is wasted here.
This allows for more types of therapy, including individual, group and family programs. It may also include holistic and alternative treatments.
Detox Is Possible
People using addictive substances such as drugs or alcohol to manage their mental health condition benefit from detox. You can safely withdraw with medical supervision, minimizing relapse risks.
You Have Access to Emotional Safety
For people dealing with intense mental health complications, emotional safety is important. Your team is available to you around the clock, so they can help you with spinning thoughts and irrational fears. They can also help you to cope with self-inquiry needs, allowing you to safely explore what’s causing your symptoms.
Who Should Consider Inpatient Mental Rehab Services?
Above all else, it’s very important to understand that all facilities are different and no two forms of care are identical. Different programs have different philosophies, different ways of addressing treatment, different approaches to medicine and different specialties. Even the length of mental health stay may vary greatly from one facility to the next.
Inpatient care can be very helpful to people in the following situations:
- You are at risk of suicide or a danger to other people.
- You are using substances such as drugs or alcohol.
- Aggression or out-of-control actions are possible.
- Medications may no longer be working effectively.
- You have hallucinations or delusions.
- Neglectful acts are occurring such as forgetting to eat or care for yourself.
- Outpatient help isn’t working.
If you, or a loved one, is experiencing these risk factors, immediate help is available to you. It can be an essential way to stabilize mental health so that more effective treatment is possible.
Why Can’t You Just See a Therapist for Your Needs?
Many people can benefit from seeing a therapist for their mental health disorders. However, others may not find this effective enough. Complications can occur for many reasons.
In some cases, your therapist may need to monitor your health and mental well-being while changing or adding medications. A safe inpatient environment may help with this.
In other cases, you pose a risk to yourself or those around you. Stabilization becomes critical to saving your life.
Seeking Inpatient Mental Rehab at FHE Health
If you or a family member are considering entering a voluntary inpatient mental health program, keep these elements in mind when comparing programs. To improve your chances of lasting success, you need to find the right approach for you.
From strict and traditional to holistic and alternative or a blend of the two, there’s a solution for everyone. Please contact mental health services and programs, tour facilities, speak to alumni and do your own research to explore which options are the most appropriate for your mental health needs.