Most everyone strives to be an independent, self-sustaining adult capable of taking care of themselves, but for some, there are times in life where various psychological issues can take over and overwhelm them from within. In some cases, professional assistance is needed, and in certain cases, like suicide attempts or addicts needing rehab, inpatient care for mental health proves necessary. While things vary from facility to facility and case to case, there are certain facets to an inpatient stay that you should be mentally prepared and ready for. Keep reading to learn 7 such things to expect.
1) You may get physically searched upon arrival. Facilities dealing with patients whose maladies are not necessarily severe might not resort to this, buy rehab centers may search patients to prevent drugs from being smuggled in. Facilities dealing with recent suicide attempts are possibly housing patients still at high risk of self-harm, and have to look out for razor blades or anything else that could be used by a person wanting to hurt themselves. While most psychiatric centers do not resort to full nude strip searches like prisons do, thorough searches are the norm.
2) You will not eat like a king. The food in psychiatric facilities if often from a mass cafeteria providing meals for many people, several times a day. Doctors overseeing patients might also place dietary restrictions that make a diet even blander. Having said that, while there, you likely do not have to cook or clean, and you might have options on what to eat, so try to enjoy that convenience at least.
3) Forget fresh air. Since many inpatient mental health facilities are secure environments, people inside don’t get to go outdoors all that often. Depending on the level of security and the physical structure you are in when undergoing inpatient care for mental health, you might go a week at a time without getting sunlight except through a window.
4) Not all your therapy is going to be private. You might think that you’ll get assigned an individual psychiatrist or counselor who meets with you regularly to discuss things with you. You’re probably right. Where you’re going to be disappointed is how much time you get with them. Sessions might last an hour, but often, they’re just 10 minute check ins as they run through their list of patients. This can be incredibly frustrating to many patients who feel they deserve and need personal in-depth attention, but the reality is usually far different because another kind of therapy is involved.
5) You can’t skip group therapy. When you’re in inpatient care for mental health, you’re probably at a low point in your life. You don’t feel social, and you certainly don’t want to share personal information with a bunch of strangers, many of whom are also struggling with things. Unfortunately, attendance is probably going to be mandatory. It’s good to participate some, otherwise the nurses report badly about you to the doctors. However, it’s also a good idea to be very selective in what you say. The other patients might not be getting well all at the same time, and some might take advantage of what you say, inside or out.
6) The phones aren’t always on. Many inpatient care facilities for mental health only allow patients to talk to the outside world through the approved phone lines or regular visitation hours. The nurse’s station sometimes shuts these off during group therapy or other mandatory activities.
7) Don’t think you can get away with getting mixed up with another patient. Nurses and technicians can’t see every moment of every room, but hanky panky is hard to hide. While the close quarters and constant sharing of personal details in group therapy can make two patients spark a connection pretty fast, remember that everyone is emotionally vulnerable right now. Relationship forming is discouraged by the professionals guiding you, and for very good reasons, lest there be new problems after the fact when you both get out and find yourself in a codependent relationship mixing the messes of two fragile lives together.
Now that you know 7 things to expect during your stay for inpatient care for mental health, the time you spend in such a facility should go much more easily.