What is the Purpose of Mental Health Hospitals?

Feb 2
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Recently, I had the privilege of appearing on HealthyPlace’s Facebook Live show. Host Emily Roberts, aka Guidance Girl Em (amazing!) and I talked about anxiety. (If you missed it live, catch the recording.) During the live show, audience members asked questions, and some of the questions were about mental hospitals, including what they’re like and how to know when you need one.

Perhaps the topic of hospitals came up because I mentioned it. I shared that part of my own anxiety treatment was in a behavioral health hospital. It can be hard to ask questions or have any sort of open discussions about mental health hospitals because the idea is intimidating and anxiety-provoking. Also, there is little understanding about what these hospitals are really like (images from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest seem indelibly burned into our collective memory). The stigma surrounding them silences questions as does the possibility of receiving inaccurate information.

The best way around these obstacles is to have conversations, like the one we had during the Facebook Live show. Further, seeking information so you can make an informed decision for yourself or a loved one is beneficial, too. Mental Health America provides comprehensive information about psychiatric hospitalization. This brief list provides a basic overview of some aspects of mental health hospitalization:

  • The purpose is to help and heal, not to punish and confine.
  • Hospitals can help you figure out what you’re experiencing (diagnoses aren’t always easy and clear)
  • The environment is safe and muted, with less stress than outside of the hospital so you can focus on getting better
  • Hospitals provide structure and activities focused on helping you get better

Hospitals are designed to be places where people can development a realistic treatment plan and set of coping skills to use in everyday life outside the hospital. They’re not designed to be long-term facilities but rather pit stops along the road of your life.

Of course, like anything in life, not all hospitals are created equal. Some are magnificent, others aren’t. People are different, too, so even within the same hospital, people can have different experiences — some positive, some negative.

In general, mental health hospitals are positive places (even if you don’t want to be there) where people can receive the proper help in order to thrive in life outside the hospital.

Tune in to Wellbeing & Words on YouTube, where I talk about how you know if you need a mental health hospital and describe what they’re like inside.

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