What Are Mental Hospitals Like
What Are Mental Hospitals Like
There is a lot of curiosity when it comes to the question “What Are Mental Hospitals Like?” and I guess part of the issue is that the way that the psych wards are portrayed in movies and television shows versus reality. I have spent my fair share of time in mental hospitals and psych wards so I am pretty qualified to answer that question. Before I begin this article what you fine readers need to remember is when it comes to mental hospitals and psych wards they are going to differ a bit by location and whether or not they are public or privately ran. In my case I live in Ontario, Canada and they were both public institutions
Stand Alone Mental Hospital
I spent months in a stand alone mental hospital for a variety of reasons which I am not going to cover again. Most stand alone psych hospitals are typically organized by floor. For example the one I stayed in was organized like this:
- First Floor – This is where all of the doctors offices were located and the security office
- Second Floor – This was the first adult floor. The majority of the patients were dealing with depression, bipolar and anxiety. Patients on this floor did not present any security risks and there was no worried that they would take off. The patients could leave the floor and walk around the grounds if they chose to
- Third Floor – This was the child and teen floor dealing with adolescents suffering from mental illness
- Fourth Floor – This was the second adult floor. This was a lock down unit and the only time a patient could leave the floor is with a security guard present. This was also home to the PIC or Psychiatric Intensive Care unit where the medical officials dealt with severe mental illness
Stand alone mental hospitals are normally meant for patients who are going to have longer admissions typically.
Psych Wards In A Typical Hospital
Most hospitals have a floor that is dedicated to psychiatric care. Again I have spent enough time on my local psych ward for a variety of reasons. Psych Wards of this fashion tend to deal with shorter admissions and there tend to be a lot of people who are being held for seventy two hour holds and released. If you happen to be here for a month or two you will see a lot of the same faces over and over again. There is no typical patient for this type of psych ward however in my experience a high number are dealing with substance abuse problems as well as mental health issues
If I had a choice I would pick the stand alone mental hospital every time as dealing with a constant influx of new personalities does not bode well with someone who has anxiety issues
Rooms On The Psych Ward
When it comes to where you are going to sleep the rooms on the psych ward get the idea of having your own room out of your head unless you are shelling out big bucks. The rooms could have up to four beds or they could have just two. Unfortunately with the amount of people who need psychiatric help these days you are not going to have a lot of options on who your roommates are going to be . At the time I was taking heavy duty sleeping meds which was a good thing for I would have never slept as my anxiety rate and PTSD would be working overtime about the potential situations that could arise from one roommate who was a paranoid schizophrenic who spat out his medication each night
Therapy Or The Lack Of It
The province where I live has been dealing with severe budget cuts and one of the places it is felt is in the mental hospitals and psych wards. When I was in the stand alone mental hospital there was one therapist for the entire hospital so needless to say she was one busy lady. Then I ended up on the psych ward in the local hospital and found out that they did not have a therapist whatsoever. What they did to get around this is hold group sessions were they would talk about general issues and not specific mental health disorders. For some people I guess it can be effective but for me it never was as I do not like groups let alone speaking about the struggles of my concurrent mental health issues. I would see my doctor Monday to Friday for five minutes at a time but this was not about therapy but about finding the perfect medicine cocktail.
I have never seen a straight jacket outside of a magic show nor have I ever heard about someone being restrained to a bed. I have seen people who in a complete meltdown had to be physically restrained by the nurses and security guard until the medication kicked in. Instead of straight jackets and restraints now they have medication that will knock a person out pretty darn quickly. While on the topic I have never seen a padded room either.
Clothing Or Your Butt Is Hanging Out
Whether or not you can wear your own clothing is determined by a number of factors. In the before mentioned section regarding stand alone mental hospitals those on the second floor were allowed to wear their own clothes while those on the fourth floor were stuck with the open backed gowns or hospital PJs. On the stand alone psych ward normally patients had to be in hospital attire for the first three days then a decision was made whether or not to give the person his or her clothes. If the staff felt that you were a runner then it may be sometime before you wore anything other than hospital attire.
There are a number of security issues when it comes to psych wards and mental hospitals which we will cover in this section.
- Admission – When you first arrive on the psych ward all of your belongings are searched carefully. They are looking for the obvious: drugs, weapons, items that could cause you harm and valuables.
- Security Guard – On the psych ward and on the fourth floor at the local mental hospital there was a security guard present for the majority of the time. For the most part they sat on their butt and would react if a situation would arise.
- Room Checks – Basically they are looking for items that could cause harm to yourself. If you have a history of self harm your room is going to be checked more than others. They go through all of your clothes, through your locker, under the mattress and any hiding place that you can think of
- Nurses – Depending on if you are a danger to yourself or others will determine how often the nurse will check on a patient. If the risk is high a nurse may spend all day with the patient and another will watch them while they sleep. If the patient is at a minimal risk they may check on the patient each half hour or so
What Are Mental Hospitals For
When it comes down to it there are two main reasons why people end up in mental health hospitals or psych wards
- Mental Health Emergency – Whether the person is suicidal or having a major break from reality the mental health hospital is designed to get them stable again and to be released back into their lives
- Medication Issues – This has more to deal with people who live with a number of mental health disorders whose medication has decided to stop working and they need to figure out a new cocktail so they can be released and go back to their lives. The problem of course is some medication takes up to six weeks before it can be determined whether or not it will be effective. Unfortunately there is no blood test or image scan that can tell the doctors what is lacking or what their brains are over producing so finding the right medication can feel like a crap shoot
- There are people who will spend decades in a mental hospital and for whatever the reason their brains will not respond to any type of medication and there is not enough support in the community for them to live safely. Heck in a major psych hospital near me there are patients who undergone lobotomies who have never left the hospital for any extended period of time in the last several decades. Again this category is very rare