- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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?