Mental Health Awareness Month: 6 Myths About Inpatient Treatment
- Category: Mental Health
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Thanks to harsh depictions in media and outdated misconceptions, inpatient mental health treatment still carries an unfair stigma. However, the reality is that inpatient mental health hospitals provide a safe, therapeutic environment and lifesaving treatment for individuals with varying degrees of mental health issues.
“There is an undeserved stigma around seeking inpatient treatment,” said Alexis Totaro, MSN, RN, WHNP-c, CARN-AP, Vice President/Administrator of Mental Health Services at Christian Health. “But it can help anyone who is simply not functioning at their usual level by helping them stabilize and learn coping skills so that they are able to thrive after they leave.”
This Mental Health Awareness Month, we take the opportunity to shed light on some very common myths about inpatient treatment.
Myth #1: Everyone in inpatient hospitals is suffering from severe mental illness.
Reality: Most patients in inpatient treatment centers are there for common mental health issues, like depression or anxiety. You do not have to be suffering from intense symptoms or be dangerous or suicidal to benefit from this type of treatment. Many people simply benefit from a stay in an inpatient center because it acts as a reset button – they get time away from their routine, responsibilities, and stressors and are able to focus on their feelings, learn coping strategies, and get better.
Myth #2: You will be forced to take medications or receive invasive treatment.
Reality: Medication management is an important aspect of inpatient mental treatment. After assessing you, a psychiatrist may recommend one or more medications as well as monitor your dosage and symptoms so that they can adjust based on whether or not your symptoms approve. However, you will not be forced to take medicines against your will as long as you are not a danger to yourself or others – your consent and comfort is an important part of your healing journey.
Myth #3: Inpatient treatment requires a prolonged stay.
Reality: The unknown is always intimidating – if you have never experienced a stay in an inpatient treatment center, you may be unsure what to expect. Fearing that you will be there for months on end may deter from you receiving helpful treatment – but that is very unlikely to be the case. The most common length of stay for inpatient treatment is about a week or two – just long to serve as a much-needed break to help you get back on the track to wellness.
Myth #4: Inpatient treatment is for people who are violent or dangerous.
Reality: People with a mental illness are statistically no more likely to be violent than other people. Many individuals in inpatient treatment are there voluntarily – not because they have committed a crime or are deemed too dangerous for the outside world. Inpatient treatment centers are safe and secure places designed to soothe and provide a trigger-free environment for recovery.
Myth #5: Inpatient treatment is like being in prison.
Reality: Inpatient hospitals are often portrayed as cold, restrictive, prison-like places with harsh, unfeeling staff who act more like guards than caregivers. However, inpatient treatment centers actually encourage patients to interact, participate in therapeutic activities, and enjoy time outside in the fresh air.
Myth #6: Seeking inpatient treatment means you are weak.
One of the most common – and untrue – misconceptions about mental health treatment is that those who need it are weak-willed. However, it’s arguably a sign of strength to admit when you are not thriving and that you need care. We never shame those with medical issues for getting the necessary treatment to heal – the same should apply to our mental health!
Inpatient Treatment at Ramapo Ridge Behavioral Health
If you think you might benefit from inpatient mental health treatment, we are here to help. Ramapo Ridge, our inpatient mental health treatment center, is dedicated to providing compassionate care in a welcoming, nonjudgmental, and therapeutic setting to ensure our patients’ recovery, as well as offering access to additional resources to prevent relapse.
Visit your primary provider to a request a referral for admission to our program, or please call (201) 848-5500 to make an appointment with our LiveWell Counseling center for an evaluation. You can also visit ChristianHealthNJ.org/Communities-Services/Mental-Health for more information.