Psych Hospitals – The Not So Scary Truth

Don’t take me!  I don’t want to go.  I’m not going!!!

Going to a psychiatric hospital can be incredibly scary.  There are a lot of horror stories about them.  And for the most part, in today’s society, the horror stories are not true.  I say “for the most part” because I know that for some people, they have had bad things happen to them.  But, in general, most facilities are safe places, where people can go and get the care they needed.  They are not strapped down for hours and hours, stabbed with needles, and/or drugged up and drooling on a couch.

As I have mentioned a few times on here before, I have a little bit of experience with psychiatric hospitalizations. 17 different hospitalizations to be exact – at 7 different facilities. 

  • 1 in Texas
  • 4 in Indiana
  • 2 in Florida

Out of all of these facilities, I would say I had bad experiences at 2 of them, and out of those 2, only one of those was a really horrible experience, and I would say I would absolutely never want to be admitted to that hospital again.  Despite that, I know people that have been admitted to that hospital, and have had completely different experiences than me – so I don’t know, perception of how I compared it to the other hospitals I went to maybe?

All of these hospitalizations ranged in time differences – from as short as 3 days to one as long as 6 months at a state hospital (that hospital was probably the best hospital I was ever at). 

The reason why I really am writing this, is because far to often people talk about their bad experiences at the psych hospital.  No one really talks about how much it might have helped them. This tends to scare people off from actually going and getting help when they need it.  They are scared they might lose their kids, or they will never get out, they will be restrained and tied to a bed, they will be treated bad. 

This isn’t true though.  I can’t promise every hospital is going to be amazing.  It isn’t a 5 star hotel, and some hospitals are newer and better than others.  But it is a safe place if you are in danger of hurting yourself or others.  It is a place for you to get help.  Unless there is abuse or neglect of your kids where they are in immediate danger, they wont take away your kids if you have someone to watch them while you are there – you will get them back (per every situation I have ever encountered with people that have had kids).  You might be there 1 day (unless you are under a 72 hour hold), or you might be there a month – but that is between you and the doctor and how you feel you are doing.  If you are not a danger to yourself or others though, they cannot keep you in there against your will. 

I know it might not seem like the hospitals helped me at all, considering I was in and out of them so much.  But they did!  They saved my life.  If it wasn’t for them, I would be dead.  I would go on and off my medication, I was non compliant.  I didn’t think I needed help.  I didn’t know how to accept the help.  Every time I went in I hated life and wanted to die – or had actually attempted suicide.  They would bring me back to reality, get me back on my meds.  Get me into the group therapy there, the techs would talk to me, the psychiatrist would talk to me.  I relearned how to use my coping skills.  I got stabilized.  For the time being anyway.  For me, it took more than an acute care hospital – it took the state hospital.  For most, it doesn’t take that though.  But for me, that state hospital literally saved me from destruction. 

I spent 6 months there and I was scared to go.  When they told me I was being committed I was scared.  Yet, I didn’t even think much of it at the same time.  I was so over hospitals and assumed I would kill myself no matter what it didn’t phase me.  In the end, after 6 months, I was a new person.  Yes, I still struggle, but I think about how much time and effort everyone put into teaching me how to live again, not just survive in life but actually live.  The psychiatrist, nurse, medical doctors, therapists, psychologists, techs, recreational therapists – it was amazing how much everyone cared. 

People at psych hospitals do care.  It is a not a gloomy place where patients are catatonic and drugged up, tied to chairs and beds.  Groups take place, patients make friends, support is given. I still have friends from some of my hospitalizations in the acute care hospitals and friends from the state hospital.  And we keep in touch more often than other friends because they understand me much better.

If you need help, reach out.  Take it.  It is there.  Don’t be scared.

6 thoughts on “Psych Hospitals – The Not So Scary Truth”

  1. This is great. Wonderful perspective. This is also a good article for individuals who are so fearful of psychiatric hospitals or care that they refrain from seeking help when they need it most. Most individuals who are suffering from severe or untreated mental illness avoid psychiatric hospitals because of these horror stories. It is, however, understandable that fear would result from these stories, especially those stories from the 1700s where hospitals were ran like museums where people off the street could come in and look upon someone’s loved one for their own amusement. Our hospitals have been poorly ran, poorly inspected, and staffed. However, today’s hospitals are a little better with multiple states requiring yearly inspections by public welfare and health agencies. With more education and training among healthcare providers, hospitals are no longer ran as museums and confidentiality and privacy are more regarded. In fact, because of strict standards involving confidentiality and privacy, many families have trouble getting treatment for their loved ones. HIPAA (health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996), while a barrier, is regarded in hospitals across the nation.

    So basically hospitals are different today and are useful for those truly needing intervention. However, it is naive to assume that ALL (or even most) hospitals are perfect, safe, confidential, and helpful. It is wise to do research on a hospital that you might need to rely on, ask around about the hospital, and even have a living will (advance directive) stating the hospital you prefer to be sent to in the event you need it.

    Great subject, so glad you reviewed this.
    All the best
    @therapisttee (twitter)


  2. Thanks so much for sharing!! My son is only 13 and in a Residential Treatment Center for the second time. I know that for now it is our only option but still, it is scary for a parent to hand their child over to people they don’t really know. Heck, when he was younger he probably only went on a couple of sleep overs to friends houses! I usually encouraged him to have friends stay at our house on those occasions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the comment. Yes, sometimes a hospital or residential treatment is the best option at that time. For me, it was the only option at times. My 6 month stay at a state hospital was a last resort and was the best thing that happened to me – it led me back to being stable and quite honestly was the best hospital I had ever been at. I can completely understand being scared about handing over your child to someone elses care though. Just know that they do have his best interests in mind and the staff are usually very caring. I have actually worked in some residential treatment center for youth (as I was a nursing student) – and the ones I was at were really great. We of course had school that went on, but there was also lots of activities for play and socialization and therapeutic groups as well. I hope that he is getting great care and you are still able to keep in touch with him to ease your mind!


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