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Inpatient care for mental health: What to expect

Inpatient Care for Mental Health: What to Expect

Inpatient care for mental health is available in the form of specialized clinics and residential treatment centers that provide patients with a place to stay during their treatment. Inpatient facilities are usually reserved for cases where self-harm is imminent, or where safety at home is not a foregone conclusion.

Inpatient care facilities may be more clinical in nature, or more residential, and offer a variety of modalities depending on the level of care, intended specialization, and staff. Some inpatient facilities specialize in substance use disorder and dual diagnosis, while others may help patients with suicidal ideation or psychosis stay safe while receiving treatment.

Making Strides Through Mental Health Care

Mental health care has come a long way from the days of Hippocrates, or Galen. Today’s mental health treatment plans center around a biopsychosocial approach of a patient’s life, identifying biological factors, mental factors, and external factors that contribute to their mental state, and treating them accordingly. Modalities for mental health care can include various forms of medication, individual psychotherapyphysical therapyanimal-assisted therapyexperiential treatment, and group therapies.

But for mental health treatment to be effective, a patient must trust the mental health professionals they’re working with, adhere to medical advice, and remain consistent in their treatment. Inpatient care for mental health is also available to patients who may have difficulty with medication adherence and consistent care.

When Is Inpatient Care for Mental Health Needed?

Inpatient care is needed when either the patient themselves or a mental health professional decides that it is needed. The intended purpose of an inpatient care facility is to provide consistent and supervised care, and a safe environment. Unlike outpatient care, where patients must regularly travel to a clinic to receive therapy and treatment, inpatient facilities are ideal in situations where intensive support is necessary. Common mental health conditions that may necessitate inpatient care include:

  • Eating disorders – these conditions often involve dangerous eating binges, long periods of self-inflicted starvation, and unhealthy purging methods, such as laxative abuse and induced vomiting. Eating disorders have a high mortality rate because of the stress they place on the body, and severe cases require immediate and intensive care, especially after hospitalization.
  • Certain anxiety disorders – certain intense phobias or panic disorders can call for a short period of inpatient treatment. Symptoms can range from mental ones such as intense fear and panic, to physical ones, such as heart rate spikes, difficulty breathing, shaking, and digestive problems.
  • Psychosis – psychosis describes perceiving things that aren’t there, usually in the form of audiovisual hallucinations or persistent delusions. Some forms of psychosis may require inpatient care, especially after a “psychotic break,” which is more of a period wherein symptoms grow in intensity.
  • Severe depression – some cases of depression may involve long-term suicidal ideation, as well as a history of self-harm and suicide attempts. If a patient is at a greater risk of self-harm, they may be referred to an inpatient facility until their symptoms improve.
  • Substance use disorder – substance use disorders, or addictions, can be debilitating and difficult to address in an outpatient care facility. When outpatient care fails, a patient with substance use disorder or a dual diagnosis of addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition may be referred to a residential or inpatient care facility.
  • Severe stress disorders – stress disorders, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may require inpatient care if a patient feels unsafe, or requires intense individualized care.

Inpatient care for mental health can last weeks, months, or longer, depending on the patient’s condition and prognosis during treatment. Once a patient is feeling better, they might be referred to a lower form of care, such as partial hospitalization or an outpatient treatment program.

Some mental health conditions are exacerbated by conditions in a patient’s everyday life. In cases of domestic violence, for example, inpatient care may help patients remain in a safe environment while their home life is being investigated. Afterward, a patient may continue to seek mental health care for their trauma through outpatient care.

Residential vs. Inpatient Care Facilities

Residential treatment facilities, or residential care facilities, are a type of inpatient care facility. Psychiatric hospitals, for example, may offer short-term stays to patients who are at a higher risk of self-harm due to a heightened episode of suicidal ideation, or a psychotic break. After a few days, as symptoms improve, they may go home and continue outpatient care. But some conditions take longer to address, and require a natural, comfortable, and safe environment.

We don’t put people in psychiatric asylums for weeks, months, or years anymore. The process of closing these long-term treatment facilities began in the 1950s and culminated in fast-track de-institutionalization throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

When Outpatient Care Isn’t Enough

While long-term mental health care is a problem in need of a better solution, patients with mental health conditions that require longer inpatient treatment – when community outpatient care is not the best option – are usually referred to a community-based residential treatment facility.

These are normal, everyday houses, villas, and residential compounds that have been transformed into semi-clinical facilities, staffed by medical professionals and mental health experts, from trained psychiatrists and therapists to registered nurses and caretakers.

Intensive Individualized Care

Eating disorders and substance use disorders are two common conditions that may necessitate inpatient treatment for more than a few days. Long-term intensive individualized care is needed to help patients with an eating disorder, or a substance use disorder overcome intrusive thoughts, battle self-destructive habits, introduce healthier coping mechanisms, create a strong support network, and gain access to important resources for continued self-care and outpatient care after residential treatment.

What Does Inpatient Care Look Like?

Every patient has their own treatment plan within a residential or inpatient care facility. Modalities differ from facility to facility. Some offer animal-assisted therapy, or equine therapy if they are located near a ranch. Some offer more outdoor activities than others. Nearly all facilities offer one-on-one and group therapy sessions, utilizing established mental health treatment practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectic behavior therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

Finding the right inpatient care facility for you is a matter of identifying a facility that you feel comfortable with, with staff you like, therapists you can trust, and an environment you feel safe in.

Inpatient Care for Mental Health in Malibu

For more information about inpatient care for mental health or a residential treatment program, reach out to Amend Treatment. You can contact us conveniently online through our website or call us by phone.

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