Step-by-Step How to Check Into a Mental Hospital (Voluntarily)

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on July 31, 2023
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Navigating the process of seeking help for mental health concerns can be daunting, and we’re here to make that journey a little easier for you.

Our Online Mental Health Review team is uniquely qualified to guide you through this process. Composed of experienced therapists, counselors, and former residential mental health facility staff, we know firsthand the complexities of checking into a mental health facility.

This step-by-step guide aims to simplify the process, reduce anxiety, and empower you to take that vital step toward recovery. Everyone deserves access to mental health resources, and we’re committed to making that journey as straightforward as possible with the help of medical assistance.

What Are the Rules for Admitting Yourself to a Mental Hospital?

Admitting yourself to a mental hospital can be necessary for many individuals experiencing severe mental health issues. The process and criteria for admission to the psychiatric ward can vary depending on the facility, but here are some general rules and actions:

  1. Recognize the Need: Common reasons for seeking inpatient treatment include experiencing psychosis, mania, substance misuse, or suicidal thoughts/behaviors.
  2. Voluntary Admission: Most facilities allow for voluntary admission, which means you can admit yourself if you need help. This is often preferred over waiting until your condition worsens to the point of involuntary admission.
  3. Involuntary Admission: Laws vary by state, but generally, you can only be hospitalized against your will if you present a danger to yourself or others.
  4. Consent: If you’re voluntarily admitting yourself, you’ll typically need to sign a consent form called a “201” record.
  5. Court Hearing: In involuntary commitment cases, a court hearing must be held within ten days of your admission, where a judge will decide whether you should remain in the hospital.
  6. Understand Your Rights: You have patient rights even when admitted to a hospital. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these.

Remember, it’s crucial to bring a trusted advocate with you during the process and advocate for yourself once inside. While voluntarily admitting yourself doesn’t mean you can leave whenever you want, it does place you in a supportive environment where you can get the help you need.

This brief guide provides an overview of the process but remember to consult a healthcare professional for advice tailored to your situation.

How Do You Go About Checking Yourself into a Mental Hospital?

Checking yourself into a mental hospital is a significant step toward recovery, and knowing what to expect is crucial. According to Healthcare Utah, here are the steps typically involved:

  1. Recognize the Need for Help: This can be the hardest step. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, extreme depression, or mania, it’s essential to seek help immediately.
  2. Consult a Mental Health Professional: If possible, consult a mental health professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist. They can guide whether hospitalization is the best course of action.
  3. Gather Necessary Information: Before admission, you’ll need to provide your doctor’s contact information and details about your medical history.
  4. Contact the Hospital: Call the hospital’s admissions department or go to the emergency room. Explain that you wish to check yourself in for mental health treatment.
  5. Undergoing an Evaluation: A mental health professional will assess your condition to determine if hospitalization is necessary.
  6. Admission: You’ll be admitted to the facility if hospitalization is recommended. This process usually involves paperwork, a physical exam, and an introduction to the facility’s rules and regulations.

Remember, self-admission is often better than waiting until your condition worsens to the point of involuntary admission. And, while this process can seem daunting, it’s a vital step towards getting the help you need.

What are Mental Health Facilities?

  1. Mental health facilities, according to Law Insider, are defined as interventions designed to provide the maximum reduction of mental disability and restoration or maintenance of functioning.
  2. These facilities range from community-based centers to psychiatric hospitals, offering various services, including psychiatry, clinical psychology, psychiatric nursing, and social work (DHCS).
  3. Sometimes, individuals may need to consider entering a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment. This step is often considered when mental health issues become severe, unmanageable, or potentially dangerous.
  4. For instance, if a person experiences persistent suicidal thoughts, severe depression, hallucinations, or other symptoms of mental health issues that significantly interfere with daily life, it may be appropriate to seek help from a mental health facility (Verywell Mind).

Pros and Cons of Checking Into a Mental Hospital

Checking oneself into a mental health facility near you has several advantages:

  1. It provides immediate access to professional help and a safe environment.
  2. It allows for intensive, individualized treatment plans, including medication management, therapy, and support groups.
  3. Inpatient care offers a structured routine that benefits those with severe mental health conditions.

However, there are also challenges associated with this decision.

  • The stigma surrounding mental health facilities can lead to shame or embarrassment.
  • Furthermore, taking time away from work, school, or family responsibilities can be disruptive and stressful.
  • It’s also worth noting that the cost of treatment can be prohibitive for some, although an insurance company may cover part of these expenses.

When considering a mental health facility, look for one that offers all the medications and specific treatments you need, has qualified and compassionate staff, and provides a safe, respectful environment.

Be sure to check the facility’s reputation, read reviews, and ask about their approach to patient care.

When Should You Consider Going to a Mental Hospital?

Deciding to seek help at a mental health hospital is a personal decision and often a brave step toward recovery. It’s crucial to recognize signs indicating the need for such intervention.

  • Common reasons that might necessitate a visit to a mental health facility include severe depression, suicidal thoughts, intense mood swings, or severe panic attacks (GoodRxNDD Treatment). Additionally, sudden changes in mental status, like suicidal ideation, also signal the need for immediate professional intervention (Verywell Mind).
  • It’s important to note that you don’t necessarily have to be suicidal to consider hospitalization. If your comfort level is severely compromised or there are significant changes in sleep patterns, appetite, or mood, these could also be signs that you need help (Vantage Point RecoveryNorth Memorial).
  • However, keep in mind that laws vary by state, and usually, involuntary hospitalization can only occur if you present a threat to yourself or others (Mental Health America).

If you or your loved ones observe any of these symptoms, it might be time to consider seeking help at a mental health facility. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help, and doing so is the first step toward better mental health.

What Are the Signs That You Need to Stay in a Mental Hospital?

Recognizing the signs you may need to stay in a mental hospital is crucial for ensuring timely and appropriate care. These signs can vary greatly, but some common indicators suggest hospitalization might be beneficial.

  1. Suicidal Thoughts or Self-Harm Urges: If you’re experiencing persistent thoughts of suicide or have urges to harm yourself, immediate professional intervention is necessary.
  2. Intense, Intrusive, Unwanted Thoughts: These thoughts could involve causing injury to oneself or others. They can be due to various mental health conditions, including severe depression.
  3. Significant Sleep, Appetite, or Mood: These changes could indicate a mental health crisis. For instance, having sleep problems, experiencing spontaneous changes in appetite, or frequent mood swings can all be signs that professional help is needed.
  4. Neglecting Personal Care: Prolonged starvation, skipping showers, or withdrawal from regular medications are signs that one’s ability to self-care is deteriorating.
  5. Loss of Touch with Reality: Includes hallucinations, delusions, or extreme confusion. It indicates immediate professional help is required.

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s essential to seek professional help immediately. Mental health hospitals are equipped to provide the urgent, comprehensive care required in such situations. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and the first step toward recovery.

How Does Hospitalization Impact Your Mental Health?

Hospitalization, especially for mental health concerns, can significantly impact a person’s emotional and psychological well-being.

According to studies, hospitalization can exacerbate depression and anxiety in patients (source).

  • Patients may experience confusion or sadness, which could be symptoms of other mental health conditions or issues (source). Illness, especially when taking drugs for pain or anxiety, can lead to confusion and cognitive decline (source).
  • Hospitalization may disrupt sleep, potentially worsening pain, mental status, and the psychiatric health of patients (source). It’s also been observed that delirium, leading to confusion, disorientation, and agitation, may linger even after hospitalization (source).
  • In addition, hospitalization has been associated with increased anxiety, depression, and stress among adult patients (source). Even a routine operation may trigger different emotional responses compared to severe illnesses (source).

Therefore, while hospitalization is sometimes necessary for treatment and recovery, it’s crucial to be aware of its potential psychological effects.

It’s equally essential for healthcare providers to consider these factors when caring for hospitalized patients, providing appropriate support to mitigate these impacts.

What Exactly is Inpatient Mental Health Treatment?

Inpatient mental health treatment, is a form of intensive care designed for individuals experiencing acute mental health crises that cannot be effectively managed in a less restrictive setting.

  • It involves staying overnight or for an extended period at a specialized facility or hospital dedicated to mental health care.
  • During an inpatient stay, patients receive comprehensive round-the-clock care and supervision from a team of mental health professionals. This team typically includes psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and therapists who work together to provide tailored treatment plans.
  • The treatment approach can vary depending on the individual’s specific needs but often includes individual therapy, group therapy, medication management, and other therapeutic activities such as art or recreational therapy.
  • The goal of treatment is to manage immediate crises and equip patients with coping strategies for when they return to their everyday lives.
  • Admission to an inpatient mental health facility can be voluntary (where the person chooses to admit themselves) or involuntary (usually when they pose a significant risk to themselves or others).

Overall, inpatient mental health treatment aims to provide a safe, supportive environment and treatment center where individuals can focus entirely on their recovery, away from everyday stressors and responsibilities.

Remember, seeking help is a critical step towards better mental health, and inpatient treatment is one of several options available to assist individuals during challenging times.

What Can You Expect During a Stay at a Mental Hospital?

During a stay at a mental hospital, you can expect a structured environment focused on your recovery. The visit can vary from a few days to several weeks, depending on your needs and the doctor’s recommendation.

  • Upon admission, you’ll likely be given a schedule that outlines daily activities. This typically includes meals, individual therapy, group therapy, family services, skill-building groups, and possibly visiting hours and free time. These activities help manage symptoms, develop coping skills, and foster community.
  • Each patient is assigned a treatment team, usually a psychiatrist, therapist, or social worker. They work together to develop and implement a personalized treatment plan addressing your needs.
  • Maintaining proper hygiene and completing all tasks assigned to you are also expected during your stay. This could include attending all therapy sessions and taking prescribed medication if applicable.
  • The experience of a psychiatric hospital will differ for each person. While it may be challenging, remember that everyone is there for the same reason: to heal. Being open about your feelings and experiences can significantly aid your recovery.

Lastly, it’s essential to know that the average length of stay in a psychiatric hospital is about two to three weeks. However, this can vary based on individual circumstances.

Can a Hospital Truly Help With Mental Illness?

Yes, a hospital can genuinely help with mental illness. Hospitals, specifically psychiatric hospitals, are equipped to provide intensive treatment for individuals who cannot manage their mental illness symptoms at home. This often includes a combination of medication management and therapeutic interventions.

In situations of a mental health crisis, such as suicidal ideation or severe psychosis, immediate help is necessary, and a trip to the emergency room might be the best option. The ER can provide immediate stabilization and then refer the individual to appropriate mental health services, which may include hospitalization.

Hospitalization for mental health concerns is more common than you might think too. Individuals often seek this level of care because of the comprehensive treatment options it provides. For example, inpatient therapy can help patients analyze the conditions that led to their mental health crisis and develop coping strategies.

However, admission into a mental health facility often requires a referral from a mental health professional. This helps ensure that hospitalization is the most appropriate treatment option for the individual’s needs.

Alternatives to Inpatient Mental Hospital

Alternatives to inpatient treatment include outpatient therapy, medication management, support groups, and online mental health resources. These options can be effective for many individuals and offer more flexibility than inpatient care.

  • To improve mental health outside of professional treatment, individuals can also practice self-care strategies such as regular exercise, healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and mindfulness.
  • Connecting with supportive friends and family, learning stress management techniques, and reducing alcohol or substance use can also be beneficial.
  • While hospitalization can be an effective treatment option, it’s also important to note that outpatient programs can also be beneficial. These programs allow individuals to receive intensive treatment while maintaining some of their everyday daily routines.
  • Moreover, community-based mental health clinics are crucial in addressing mental health needs. These clinics can provide cost-effective and accessible services to many of the population.

In conclusion, hospitals can offer significant help to individuals dealing with mental illnesses, providing intensive, immediate care during crises and access to various treatments.

What Kind of Mental Health Services Do Hospitals Typically Offer?

Hospitals typically offer various mental health services to provide comprehensive care for individuals with mental health conditions.

  1. Inpatient Treatment: This involves admission to a hospital or treatment facility, providing around-the-clock care and supervision for individuals who cannot manage their symptoms at home or pose a risk to themselves or others.
  2. Outpatient Services include mental health screening and counseling sessions that patients can attend while at home. This approach is often used for less severe conditions or as part of a long-term treatment plan.
  3. Medication Management: This involves carefully monitoring and adjusting medication regimens to treat mental health conditions effectively and safely.
  4. Therapy: Hospitals offer various types of treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and group therapy. These therapies can help patients develop coping skills and strategies to manage their conditions.
  5. Support Groups: Many hospitals provide support groups where individuals can share experiences and coping strategies with others facing similar challenges.
  6. Educational Classes: These classes teach patients about their conditions and how to manage symptoms, promoting better understanding and self-care.

It’s important to note that the specific services offered can vary from emergency department and hospital to hospital, and the type of care a person needs will depend on their circumstances and condition. Always consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Who Makes Up a Comprehensive Mental Health Care Team in a Hospital?

A hospital’s comprehensive mental health care team comprises various professionals who work collaboratively to provide holistic patient care. The composition of these teams can vary depending on the specific needs of the patient and the resources of the hospital, but generally, they include:

  1. Primary Care Provider (PCP): The PCP usually leads the team and is responsible for the overall management and coordination of the patient’s care.
  2. Psychiatrists are medical doctors specializing in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They can prescribe medication and provide psychotherapy.
  3. Psychologists: These professionals provide psychotherapy and administer psychological tests to help diagnose mental health conditions.
  4. Mental Health Nurses: They provide direct care to patients and administer prescribed medications.
  5. Social Workers: They help patients navigate social and financial issues that might impact their mental health, such as housing or employment challenges.
  6. Occupational Therapists: They work with patients to improve daily living skills that may have been affected by their mental illness.
  7. Pharmacists: They manage all medication-related aspects of patient care, ensuring the safe and effective use of psychiatric medications.
  8. Peer Support Specialists: These individuals have personal experience with mental health conditions and recovery. They provide support and guidance to patients from a place of shared understanding.

Each team member is crucial in providing comprehensive care, ensuring that all aspects of a patient’s mental and physical health are addressed. This collaborative approach allows for more integrated care that responds better to individual patient needs (source).

What Are Your Rights as a Patient in a Mental Hospital?

Patients in mental hospitals have numerous rights designed to protect their dignity and well-being. Various laws and regulations establish these rights, and they include:

  1. Right to Humane Treatment: Patients have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, free from abuse or seclusion.
  2. Right to Prompt Evaluation and Treatment: Patients are entitled to receive a timely evaluation and appropriate treatment, including pain management.
  3. Right to Protection from Harm: Facilities must take reasonable precautions to ensure patients’ safety, especially those at risk of self-harm.
  4. Right to Leave: Voluntary patients can request to leave the hospital. However, the facility can deny this request if the patient poses a risk to themselves or others.
  5. Right to Appropriate Care: Patients are entitled to medical, psychosocial, and rehabilitative care that is suited to their needs.
  6. Right to Freedom from Unnecessary Restraint or Seclusion: Restraints can only be used as a last resort, in an emergency, or as a part of a patient’s treatment plan.
  7. Right to Consent or Refuse Treatment: Patients can consent to or refuse psychiatric medication or other treatment, except in emergencies or when a court-appointed guardian is involved.

It’s essential for patients and their families to understand these rights and to advocate for them when necessary. If you believe your family member’s rights have been violated, contact a patient rights advocate or a legal professional for assistance.

How To Check Into A Mental Hospital Conclusion

Remember, seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional. Your mental well-being matters and help is available.

We’d love to hear from you! If you have any additional health concerns or questions about how to check into a mental hospital, please leave a comment below. Our team wants to hear your thoughts as well. Let us know which mental health software product that Online Mental Health Reviews should explore and review next. Please share discount codes, horror stories and your experiences.

If You Are In Crisis

If you’re in a crisis, please don’t wait for an online therapy session. Immediate help is available. Dial 911 if there’s any immediate danger to yourself or others. If you’re considering self-harm, contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 – they’re available 24/7. The SAMHSA National Helpline (800-662-HELP) offers free, confidential assistance for those struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders, providing treatment options and information round the clock.

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