Being Hospitalized For Mental Health Is Nothing Like It Is In The Movies
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Health and Wellness

Being Hospitalized For Mental Health Is Nothing Like It Is In The Movies

Mental health hospitalization can be scary, especially if you aren't aware of everything that goes on.

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Hospital

Imagine you are a passenger in a car and you get into an accident. You have been severely injured and need to be rushed to the emergency room. The doctors and nurses do not hesitate when fixing and bandaging your wounds, they are quick acting, sympathetic and attentive, always there when you need them.

When you are released from the hospital, you still need some rehabilitation. The hospital staff sets you up with follow up care quickly, you don't have to wait a long time for an appointment because the doctors can see the severity of your issue.

Now imagine you are a mental health patient. You have a crisis and need to be seen by a doctor. Once you get to the emergency room, instead of being quickly attended to, you are told to sit and wait in the waiting room. The doctors and nurses look at you as if you have something the matter with you. Finally, they put you in a sliding curtain room or a hallway, where you wait longer.

They say waiting for a psychiatrist could be all night, so it is hours before you are seen by someone who can actually help you and that psychiatrist sees you once, for about 20 minutes. After discharged there is no follow up, so if you want it you have to look for it yourself and schedule an intake appointment (which at any mental health facility takes weeks).

Why is one illness more important than the other? Why do physical illnesses get more attention and support than mental ones? In the present day, mental health patients are treated unfairly and poorly when reaching out for help. More needs to be done, to provide better care for those who struggle with mental illnesses.

As someone who struggles with mental illnesses, I get a first-hand account of the way people are treated in the health system. I've been hospitalized, in outpatient programs, and in therapy groups and I can personally say that I've been treated like a prisoner, more than someone who just needs help.

If you ask any professional they will tell you, "While the majority of people with mental health conditions will likely not need to spend time in a hospital or treatment center, an individual may need to be hospitalized so that they can be closely monitored and accurately diagnosed, have their medications adjusted or stabilized, or be monitored during an acute episode when their mental illness temporarily worsens."

What patients don't know beforehand is that "closely monitored" means you will have someone watching you at all times, when you eat, sleep, shower and use the restroom, "and to have medications adjusted or stabilized" means, they make you take medicine you've never been prescribed before, even if the side effects make you feel sick or the medicine makes you feel not yourself, and they will do very little to actually help the situation.

In my experience, I've had two different stays at two different hospitals but the experiences were very very similar. I was only able to see my psychiatrist (person prescribing me life-altering drugs) for at most ten minutes a day. Other than that I was shuffled into bullshit group therapy sessions where 80% of patients were uninterested in the topic to be discussed and the other 20% either skipped group or slept during it.

Many patients also don't know upon entering, you have no access to phones, can't wear certain clothes, very little visiting time with family, and are forced into a daily schedule of times to eat, sleep, take medicine, and do activities. Many patients just come in looking for someone to talk to and are involuntarily committed. In many cases, they agree to a voluntary commitment but when they ask to leave, they are "blue papered" (civilly committed).

Under the law in all US states, persons brought into a psychiatric ward can be kept against their will, usually for 72 hours, after which time the signature of two psychiatrists and a judge is required to extend the commitment further. This means if you go to a hospital for a mental illness they can keep you three days against your will. This also means the more you act up, or get upset about your present imprisonment, they can extend days, making it more like a jail than a place you go for help.

Once you leave the hospital, your choices are slim. Depending on your insurance coverage and therapist availability, many people suffering from mental illness have to wait upwards of three weeks to a month to see someone, even after being hospitalized. I personally have struggled to find a therapist in the past that took my insurance.

I've spent countless hours and entire days on the phone with my insurance company while in crisis to find someone that would help me, to no avail. This turns this situation into a twisted cycle of struggling, asking for help to find no one, and then ending up in the hospital to be treated like a prisoner, just to do it all over again upon discharge.

I find this whole dilemma to be so disheartening and something most people don't know about or talk about due to the stigma. I'm not ashamed to share my story in hopes that it will impact others and give them knowledge about what it is actually like inside of a mental hospital. Decreasing the stigma around mental health and involuntary hospitalization is the only way to educate others on the subject and potentially change it for the people who are struggling.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please don't be afraid to reach out to your support system and always remember that you have a purpose on this planet and someone loves you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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