Choosing a Long-Term Psychiatric Hospital
Psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their goals and treatment methods. Many hospitals will specialize in a certain type of mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia or heroin addiction). Others are solely outpatient treatment centers which are generally reserved for patients who present a low-level of risk to themselves or others. Patients are often admitted on a voluntary basis, but involuntary commitment is practiced when an individual poses a serious risk to themselves and others.
As stated above, psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their goals and treatment methods as a result of the wide variety of patient needs. Psychiatric hospitals are generally categorized into one of the following types:
These hospitals are not used for acutely suicidal or homicidal people. The general focus in these hospitals are to provide much needed continuing treatment for their patients while attempting to make life as normal as possible for them. Typically, the end goal is for the patients to reach a point where they can be discharged.
However, depending on the types of patients admitted to the hospital, many do not allow patients to hold or take their own medication, to reduce the risk of an impulsive overdose, and utilize locked entrances and exits.
Crisis Stabilization Units
A crisis stabilization unit is essentially an emergency room for psychiatric patients. These hospitals will frequently deal with extremely violent, suicidal, or otherwise unstable individuals. If the patient is not able to provide consent themselves to be committed into the program, most jurisdictions require an order from a judge within a short time of the person’s entry into the hospital.
A medium-term psychiatric hospital provides care lasting several weeks. This is because most drugs used for psychiatric purposes take several weeks to take effect and the hospital will monitor the patients for several weeks to see if they respond effectively to the medication.
In some cases, a psychiatric hospital will set aside sections for children and adolescents with a mental illness. They may stand alone, meaning the entire institution is devoted to juvenile care, or simply be a separate wing in a type of hospital listed above.
Long-Term Care Hospital
A long-term care psychiatric hospital focuses on care that lasts for several years. Although the end goal is to reintegrate the patient into society as soon as possible (within 2-3 years if possible) not all patients can meet this criteria and inevitably stay for much longer. These hospitals often implement high security measures similar to those of crisis stabilization units: locked doors, security cameras, guards, supervised medication, and a generally high level of close supervision.
These are community-based treatment centers. These facilities provide long-term assisted living for patients suffering from chronic mental illnesses. The end goal is generally for the patient to reach a level of self-sufficiency. This is in contrast to the types of psychiatric hospitals listed above which focus mainly on treatment and keeping patients, and society, safe. Many psychiatrists consider these to be one of the most important types of mental health care.
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