scared to death," said Jake, a 39-year-old systems analyst in Seattle.
"But it was my last hope. I knew I had to do something. I'd had
a big career change, family pressures. I was depressed and anxious,"
he said. "I wondered, 'Can I face another day?' I was home
alone and I had firearms in the house."
"I came very close to suicide. I realized
I needed help."
the best place to get help if your illness has become severe. It can give
you an opportunity to stabilize, rest and recover while you receive medical
care. It is a safe place to be if you are feeling out of control, having
thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, having trouble taking care
of yourself or your family or if you
are experiencing other serious symptoms. It is also a good
place to be if you don't have family members or other support to care
for you while you are in crisis.
want to go," said Jake. "I always thought I was strong as a rock; Mr. Macho.
I didn't want to be considered a nut job. I worried
about how my family was going to react. And what about my job?
But I knew I had to save my life."
In the hospital, you
will receive medical treatment, psychotherapy, learn coping skills and
learn about your illness, medications and community resources.
"You'll get support and help to create a plan for recovery," said Elizabeth Walden,
Director of Intake at Centennial Peaks Hospital near Boulder, Colorado. "You'll learn how to watch for
red flags in the future. The goal is to stay out of the hospital."
What happens when I am admitted?
A psychiatrist will evaluate your symptoms to
determine the best treatment plan for you. You may want to have a family member or friend help you with
the admission process.
Hospital staff will
work with your insurance company to get approval for admission for a limited
hospital stay. The insurance company will then periodically review your
progress to determine whether the stay should be extended. If care is
denied, the psychiatrist and patient may appeal. When you prepare to check-in,
find out what items you can bring into the hospital, visiting hours and
how and when people can reach you by phone.
What can I expect in the hospital?
In the hospital,
you will work with a variety of mental health
professionals: a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, nurses, social
workers, activity and rehabilitation therapists and, if needed, an addiction
counselor. You will probably participate in individual therapy with a
primary therapist, group therapy with other patients and family therapy. You will
probably be treated with one or more psychiatric medicines.
"In the morning,
there was a therapy group, where everyone checked-in. 'How did you
sleep, how is your appetite, what is your goal for today?' said Jake.
that these people had come to the same point in their lives as I
had," he said. "Getting to know them, I didn't feel
so alone. The staff was very caring. They helped me talk my problems
out, learn relaxation techniques and about medications. I
could take a time out and leave my problems outside; I could work
on me; let someone else take care of me. And I really bonded with other patients. They're not judging
Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
photo courtesy Mary
Jane Hooper, MS
what will happen in the hospital
- You will be asked
to have certain of your belongings locked away for safekeeping.
- You will probably
share a room with another patient.
- You will have less
privacy than you're accustomed to.
- Your activities
will be on a schedule for meal times, group activities and sessions
with your doctor or therapists, free time and bedtimes.
- You may refuse
to participate in activities, but you will gain the most benefit from
your stay if you take part.
- The hospital staff
will monitor your medications.
- You may get passes
to leave the hospital for outings with friends or family members.
- Your family may
be involved in your treatment.
- In necessary circumstances,
staff may take steps to protect you from injury that could include the
use of restraints or isolation from other patients for very brief periods.
- Adults may stay
in a psychiatric facility for periods of a few days to two weeks.
Who will be informed about my hospitalization?
didn't know anything except that I had been on medical leave," said
No one will be notified
about your hospitalization without your permission, except your insurance
company. If you don't want to tell friends and co-workers you were in
a psychiatric hospital, you can tell them you went in "for a tune-up"
and thank them for their concern. In an ideal world, everyone would be
informed and understanding about mental illness. Unfortunately, that's
not the case. You may want to be prudent about who you confide in.
What happens when I am discharged?
your condition is more stable, your psychiatrist may recommend a day treatment
program. This type of partial hospitalization provides individual
and group psychotherapy, help with vocational and educational needs, and
other services to help patients learn to cope better at home, at work
and in social interactions. You will return home at night and on weekends.
After you are at home,
take time to get better. Ask for help when you need it. Practice relaxation
techniques and learn what triggers
bring on your symptoms. Keep appointments with your doctor and try to
take your medication as prescribed. Find out about support
groups and find a therapist
you are comfortable working with. Care for yourself as anyone recovering
from a serious medical condition - get enough sleep, eat a healthy
diet and try to exercise. Read books that will
help you and your family
members learn more about your illness.
Friends and family
members may be uncomfortable and uncertain about what to say or do around you. Try to be open and honest with them. There may be hurts that
need to be healed because of things that were said and done when you were
"If it weren't for the hospital," said Jake, "I wouldn't be here today."
For help in finding a mental health facility: National
Mental Health Information Center
Page updated February 1, 2011