Care after care? Is it necessary? Yes! Understanding how to take care of your mental health after treatment is more important than you think. Transitioning from intensive programming for mental health clients to a new day-to-day schedule at home can lead to quite a bit of whiplash for many people without a way to bridge the gap.
Mental health treatment programs, especially inpatient care and partial hospitalization, are built around the foundation of having a specialized environment for clients to rest, recover, and attend to their individual issues.
A transition back into a new normal means getting back to work, adapting your new daily rhythm to your home environment, and learning to put your newfound skills and habits to the test in the face of mounting pressures and returning stressors.
For many clients, the answer to taking care after treatment is an aftercare program, such as the free aftercare programs Amend Treatment offers.
Aftercare treatment plans, or transition programs, are treatment plans that further help clients adapt to their daily life at home after intensive care through follow-up telephone or teleconferencing calls and check-ins, support group invites, local community resources, and continued contact with a therapist. In other cases, an aftercare program might involve transitioning from residential care to an outpatient program before getting back to work.
What’s Next for Me?
If you are slated to return to your day-to-day life without a dedicated aftercare program, there are options for you to consider. Teleconferencing is one way to keep in touch with a mental health professional. Because you can stay in touch with therapists over the phone or via the Internet, this minimizes both the travel time and other emotional, physical, or financial thresholds associated with needing to go out of your way to seek care, while allowing you to continue working through your day-to-day schedule.
Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health After Treatment
Do not underestimate the usefulness of a dedicated aftercare program. A weekly follow-up with a therapist at your previous residential care clinic can do wonders to help you transition by offering client-specific advice.
Data shows that follow-up for clients after mental health-related hospitalization and residential treatment is both necessary and wholly lacking in both the global and national frameworks of mental healthcare.
We know from studies that adequate client follow-up reduces the likelihood of re-hospitalization, cuts the cost of outpatient care, and leads to improved outcomes for clients in mental health programs, especially in cases where specific psychiatric hospitalization or residential care is necessary, such as intentional self-harm or addiction.
If your treatment provider does not provide adequate follow-up care, ask them about potential aftercare, such as local mental health support groups, therapeutic services, and online resources.
Fostering a Healthy Transition into a New Normal
A strong residential care program will help prepare clients for their transition into a “new normal” by prioritizing the importance of adequate coping skills, healthier stress management habits, and individualized scheduling. In many instances of a mental health condition, a daily schedule can help minimize symptoms of anxiety and/or depression and eliminate rumination by helping clients break down each day’s set of tasks into individual step-by-step activities and create healthier boundaries between work-related activities, rest, and relaxation.
Procrastination, time loss, and ailing productivity are common sources of frustration and guilt in clients with anxiety disorders and depression, to the point where they may struggle with personal hygiene, keeping a clean space, and executing basic tasks as governed by their own executive functioning.
A good residential care program will also help clients reclaim these elements of their life throughout their stay, prepare them for the stressors of living at home and returning to work, as well as arm them with the necessary habits to reduce symptom severity (through healthier self-regulation and behavior management), and recognize when they might need help (understanding and pinpointing the signs of spiraling and mental rumination), and help remind them that relapses or temporary fluctuations in mental wellbeing are not a sign of failure or weakness, but a part of an ongoing and successful long-term coping process.
Not all psychiatric hospitalization will necessarily lead to lifetime care. But some mental health conditions can be chronic and require a treatment plan that helps clients develop skills they can use for life, rather than focusing solely on the next few months.
For example, certain forms of depression wax and wane but may affect a person’s behavior and thinking for years or decades to come. Some people will struggle with depression more or less for certain years, and may be more or less likely to struggle with adjacent mental and physical health problems as a result, including heart conditions or substance use disorder.
Life-long support means helping clients establish the necessary pillars that can continue to aid them in years to come through family therapy, group therapy, introductions to support groups and specialized communities, and the use of both the Internet and local resources to forge new hobby-related friendships and healthy relationships with others.
Family therapy can be especially important in the creation of a support network for clients by involving their friends and family, educating them on the client’s condition, and helping them address their own issues that might act as a contributing factor to strife and frustration at home.
Some families think of therapy as a one-and-done treatment plan or fail to recognize that, oftentimes, helping someone in their own mental health treatment means taking the time to look at and improve your own well-being and sense of self.
Helping Each Other
Another important facet of aftercare is that, especially in a support group setting, it can lead to certain clients taking on important mentorship roles after treatment. Going through a residential treatment plan after a harrowing or traumatic experience and learning to cope with your own condition can become a blessing in disguise for others living under similar circumstances, giving them a message of hope through your own experiences, and sharing your understanding of your condition with those who might still be at the beginning stages of their own recovery and treatment.
Studies show that helping others through group therapy has a two-way effect on people, inspiring better outcomes in new attendees while helping those who share their stories feel at peace with their experiences and how they helped shape them.