5 things you learn in psychiatric wards

This post was inspired by Caitlin who was inspired by Cassandra! I thought, since I lived in the UK, I could offer a different perspective.

  1. Even if you go in as a voluntary patient you can’t just leave
    I’ve seen that some people in the US can check themselves out against medical advice. To leave the hospital in the UK, you have to be signed off by the consulting psychiatrist, and if they don’t agree to you leaving, they can recommend you be sectioned (held involuntarily).
  2. If you don’t bring clothes with you, get used to wearing hospital PJs and the notorious socks!
    Some people get brought in by the police in particular or transferred to a hospital from a different area and usually have to walk around in too big PJs that for some reason have a gaping hole in the crotch area.
  3. In the UK you usually get to keep your phone!
    This always seems to blow the minds of US patients who usually have theirs confiscated. However, phones can be removed if you break certain rules, such as taking pictures of other people, or making harassing calls. Mine has twice been confiscated for making calls in the middle of the night.
  4. If you refuse medication, it can be forced upon you.
    This is only the case if you are detained under a section. I once had an argument with a guy from the US who held that Drs could give short acting sedating injections but not administer a long-acting antipsychotic against someone’s will. Well here, if they deem it in your best interest, they certainly can! I’ve seen it done and it was set to happen to me, until I agreed to have it without restraint (as I had no option either way).
  5. Psych wards are for stabilisation only
    I hear a lot about the groups and therapy offered in US psych wards, and it might be different in other parts of the UK, but of the three hospitals I’ve been in, one did a half hearted music group once a week and the rest of the time we were given a bunch of crayons. There was no therapy, no groups, no activities. You colour, stay in your room or watch TV and be unwell. They deal with keeping you safe from yourself and others safe from you and medicating you so you can leave again. They only take you even voluntarily if you’re an immediate danger to yourself or others.

What did you learn from being in a psychiatric hospital? Does it differ from the UK experience?

15 thoughts on “5 things you learn in psychiatric wards

    1. You’re usually discharged into a community MH team, but unless you’re already under one, that can take months. There are ‘recovery wards’ that supposedly do more groups (thats where my music group was) and then there’s long stay wards (like the one I’m going to) that do intensive therapy with you but they’re very unusual. I’m aware it may differ in different counties.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I see, we have the opposite, not too many places in acute care (difficult to find help when in crisis) but there are more beds in therapeutical wards or long stay. It is in the long stay beds that cuts are made because of lack of finances the government is willing to put in. So the therapeutical wards, they have the most places because they get ‘results’ and get the money in. Very different to the UK.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. In Germany, patients who stay voluntarily and involuntarily are treated on different wards. If your status changes, you go to another ward. Each hospital offers different therapy, but talk therapy (in group and one on one with a therapist), art therapy and body psychotherapy were standard in the hospitals I were at. Sadly, there are cuts here as well, and you have to wait for months to start therapy.

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  2. Here in Colorado, you can either check in voluntarily or be put on a 3-day involuntary hold. If you checked in voluntarily, you can still be put on a hold if you try to leave before the doctors think you’re safe to do so. If you were put on a hold and it expires before they want to let you leave, they can put you on a 90-day hold, but that requires the approval of a judge if you decide to contest it.

    Liked by 1 person

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