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Out of the nearly five and a half million people who sought treatment for mental health issues in 1990 fewer than 7% needed psychiatric hospitalization. Of those that did need psychiatric hospitalization, more than half actually had schizophrenia, which is a very severe type mental illness consisting of auditory and visual hallucinations and a loss of contact with reality. In cases of severe mental illnesses, psychosis and when a person is an imminent danger to themselves or someone else, psychiatric hospitalization is often the safest option.  About 13% of patients diagnosed with Depression are admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  Of these, the average number of days spent in the hospital is 6.5, according to the CDC.  As you can see, most people suffering from depression do not require psychiatric hospitalization and can be safely treated on an outpatient basis. Chances are that if you, a family member or someone you know has a diagnosis of Depression, psychiatric hospitalization will not be required.

Levels of care refers to the idea that there is a progressive dose of treatment to address the least to most severe forms of depression.  Finding the right dose or level of care, that matches the severity of your depression, is as important as making sure you get the right dose of medication to treat any other illness.  If the level of care is not sufficient, progress will not only be slow and difficult, but may be ineffective.  If the level of care is excessive, it may create additional financial burdens and discomfort.  Psychiatric hospitalization is the highest level of care as it requires 24 hour observation every day.

If someone is facing psychiatric hospitalization for a mental illness you need to ask the following questions:

Questions to ask the professionals:

  1. If the patient received a professional assessment ask:

Who did the assessment and what are their qualifications?

What is their exact diagnosis?

Can you explain it to me so that I understand it clearly?

  1. If the patient has not received a professional assessment then ask:

Why are you seeking to admit this person to the hospital?

Has the doctor recommended hospitalization and if so why?

If the doctor has recommended psychiatric hospitalization the following may be reasons:

Is there a need to remove the patient from the family? Why?

Are there behavioral problems? What behaviors?

Is it due to the family being unable to care for them? If so why?

What symptoms are being exhibited by the patient that are worrisome?

Is there an imminent danger to oneself or others?  Based on what?

Are there signs of a severe mental illness? What signs?

Questions to ask at the psychiatric hospital or treatment center when checking in:

3.Does this psychiatric hospital only treat patients with this specific disorder or diagnosis?

4. If other health or mental issues are present will they receive treatment for those problems as well?

5. Will you be testing or assessing the patient upon admission?

6. Who will administer these tests and what are their qualifications?

7. Will this same person also be evaluating the patient? If not, who will and what are their qualifications?

8. Will this same person continue treating the patient? If not, who will and what are their qualifications?

9. How often will the patient see the professional treating them?

10. When will the patient be tested and initially evaluated?

Questions to ask during the patient’s stay at the psychiatric hospital:

  1. When will I be able to talk to the doctor or therapist?
  2. Will the doctor or therapist be able to explain the treatment plan?
  3. What is the daily schedule for treatment?
  4. What will the treatment consist of?
  5. Will there be group or private therapy sessions, or both? How often?
  6. Will I (or the family) be consulted or advised of a change in treatment?
  7. How long do you anticipate the patient will need to stay?
  8. Who will be making this decision?
  9. Who evaluates the patient for discharge? What are the criteria for discharge?
  10. What type of clothing do the patients wear here?

Questions to ask when leaving the psychiatric hospital or treatment facility:

  1. Will we be advised of anticipated re-entry problems the patient might have?
  2. Will there be a need for continued counseling and medication?
  3. What if the patient leaves on their own, against medical advice?
  4. How will the hospital deal with this?
  5. If the patient leaves against medical advice what is the family’s responsibility?
  6. Can the patient continue to work or go to school while hospitalized?
  7. How soon after discharge would they be able to resume work or school?

Questions to ask regarding financial issues and insurance coverage:

  1. Do you accept our insurance? If so, exactly what is covered? If not, what payment arrangements can be made?
  2. If your insurance only covers a portion of the cost, what payment arrangements can be agreed to for the balance?
  3. Are there any other forms of financial assistance available besides insurance?
  4. Does the hospital or treatment facility accept payment arrangements?

You should always discuss your progress with your treatment provider, including what level of care is best for you.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, but are not responding to their current level of care, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery. There are alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization. Our intensive outpatient program provides treatment three to five days per week up to three hours per day and is considered an intermediate level of care.  It is more intensive that individual therapy and medication management, but less intensive than psychiatric hospitalization.  Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.