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What's It Like Being Hospitalised For Mental Health

Mental Health Conditions

Mental health hospitals, or psychiatric hospitals, are designed to be safe, secure environments where you can get intensive treatment for your mental health issues. Being admitted to a mental hospital is a terrifying thought for many people, psychiatric hospitals are very different to the way the public perceive them. People with mental health conditions can fear being away from their regular environment and routines, not having total control over their daily lives for the time they are a patient. Some may be nervous about the other inpatients, while many older people are still influenced by the stigma of the old asylums and sanitoriums.

Why you might need to be admitted to a mental health hospital?

You might be admitted to a mental health hospital or psychiatric ward for several reasons, including

If you're at risk of serious harm to themselves or others and need to be in a place of safety

If you have a new onset of serious mental health symptoms, like psychosis and can’t be treated effectively, quickly or safely enough in the community

For medication changes that require close supervision

For mental health assessment or treatment, or a place of safety following a suicide attempt.

Doctors try to treat people with mental health problems at home where possible, through medication or using Community Mental Health Teams. These teams are made up of social workers, psychiatrists and occupational therapists.

Mental Health

How can you be admitted to a mental health hospital?

You can be admitted to a mental health hospital or psychiatric ward

either voluntary or involuntarily.

A voluntary admission is when you ask a medical professional to admit you because you believe you need urgent treatment, if your doctor or psychiatrist agrees that you should be in hospital, they can arrange this for you.

Involuntary admission is when you are forced to go to a mental health hospital because you fulfill the guidelines to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act 2007. People are normally sectioned because they present an immediate danger to themselves or others due to their mental health condition. If two doctors and an Approved Mental Health Professional agree that this is the case, you can be detained in a psychiatric ward or hospital for as long as the section they are under legally allows.

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What treatment would you get?

When you go into a mental health hospital, a treatment plan is currated for you based on your individual needs.

You will have a meeting, usually with at least one psychiatrist, a nurse and sometimes a psychologist, they will assess you, ask you questions and make a plan for treatment. At this time they may give you a diagnosis for your mental health condition.

Treatments can include:

Occupational therapy

Beginning or changing medication

Support sessions with a psychologist or assistant psychologist.

Access to exercise classes and a gym

A room with art activities

Periodic reviews with the psychiatrist

Meetings with community mental health teams to plan care once the person is out of hospital

While you are in hospital you will generally have a weekly meeting with a large team of psychologist, doctors and therapist to see how you are finding your treatment plan and if any adjustments need to be made.

Common types of mental health conditions

  • Anxiety disorder, including social anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD and phobias

  • Depression, including bipolar disorder, SAD and postnatal depression

  • Eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive and binge eating disorder and orthorexia

  • Personality disorders including narcissistic personality disorder and dependent personality disorder

  • Schizophrenia, including paranoid schizophrenia

Frequently Asked Questions

Why could I have to go to hospital for my mental health?

Doctors generally try to treat mental health issues at home but you could be admitted to a mental health hospital or psychiatric ward. It could be that you would be safer in hospital, your condition cannot be treated quickly enough at home or that your care requires close observation.

How can I be admitted to hospital for mental health?

You can be admitted to hospital for a mental health problem either voluntarily or involuntarily. Voluntary admission is when you ask to go to hospital because you feel unsafe and need urgent care. Involuntary admission is when you are forced into treatment because you meet the criteria for sectioning under the Mental Health Act 2007.

What treatments do mental health patients have in hospital?

Treatment plans are curated to each individual but common mental health treatments include medication, support sessions with a psychologist and occupational therapy. You might receive further treatment at home once you are discharged from hospital.

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