What is Inpatient Mental Health Treatment?

Not everyone who struggles with a mental health condition like depression or bipolar disorder will experience suicidal thoughts or act out on self-harming behaviors. However, those who do, and those who are unable to manage their condition on an outpatient basis, can benefit from inpatient mental health treatment.

Inpatient psychiatric care has changed a lot in the last 25 years. While some patients are admitted on an involuntary basis, the majority of people who seek inpatient hospitalization do so voluntarily. Today’s inpatient mental health treatment facilities exist to help people cope with their symptoms, receive personalized care, and learn how to thrive in their day to day lives.

By enrolling in a residential environment, patients have access to mental and physical healthcare in a safe, supportive, and controlled environment. Whether you or a loved one is suffering from a dual diagnosis or solely a mental illness, our licensed mental health therapists are here to provide the guidance and support necessary to overcome your struggles.

Who Needs Inpatient Psychiatric Care?

It isn’t always easy to determine which level of care a person requires. However, inpatient mental health treatment centers are available to help people who need intensive stabilization. The vast majority of people who are hospitalized for a mental health condition suffer from mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder or major depression. Following mood disorders, people who suffer from psychotic conditions or temporary psychosis, like schizophrenia, make up the second leading reason for mental health hospitalizations. Other common conditions that may require inpatient mental health treatment include:[1]

  • Anxiety disorders (panic attacks, PTSD, phobias, OCD, ect.)
  • Impulse disorders (pyromania, intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania)
  • Personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder

Although many of these disorders are typically treated on an outpatient basis, some people may experience “flare-ups” or episodes where their symptoms become worse. Inpatient hospitalization is usually the last resort that people turn to when other types of therapies and treatments don’t work. Some signs that a person needs help from an inpatient mental health treatment facility are:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors posing a danger to themselves
  • Showing aggression or making threats posing a danger to other people
  • Suffering from uncontrollable thoughts, behaviors, or feelings
  • Needing assistance with medication management
  • Not experiencing progress with outpatient therapy
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol to cope with the mental illness
  • Experiencing hallucinations or delusions (psychosis)
  • Acting out in self-injurious behaviors such as starving oneself or cutting

What is Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Like?

Inpatient mental health treatment centers provide psychiatric care in a residential setting. This means that during a patient’s stay, they will be provided with all of their basic needs for recreation, sleeping, eating, bathing, and healthcare. Although patients will meet with nurses and counselors on a daily basis, they also receive around-the-clock care and support from behavioral health technicians.

Mental health facilities are usually equipped with a variety of specialty staff, including registered nurses, social workers, psychologists, licensed mental health counselors, and peer support specialists. The staff works together to determine the best course of care for each and every patient so that everyone’s specific needs are met. As a result, each person’s treatment plan will look different than the next, but may consist of the following types of treatments:[2]

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy and processing
  • Holistic therapies like drawing, writing, music, etc.
  • Recreational or occupational therapy
  • Psychoeducation
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Trauma-informed care/inner child therapy

In addition to therapeutic treatment, people receiving psychiatric care may also require medical stabilization or medication management. For example, in severe cases where patients are experiencing paranoia and showing aggression, tranquilizers may be required during the early phases of treatment. On the other hand, people suffering from mood disorders may require an adjustment to their dosage or type of medication. Since many mental health medications have severe side effects, it’s important that patients with severe health conditions adjust to their medications while in inpatient care.

While some people only stay at an inpatient mental health treatment facility for a few days, others will remain in treatment for several weeks or months. The duration of a person’s stay is directly related to the severity of his or her symptoms and the progress being made in treatment.

Benefits and Goals of Inpatient Treatment for Mental Health

When experiencing severe acute symptoms of mental illness, people typically require stabilization. Once physically and mentally stable, patients can begin learning new coping skills that help reduce the negative behaviors that exacerbate their symptoms. These skills are learned through therapy and provide many benefits to patients. Overall, the goals of inpatient mental health treatment include:

  • Reduce the chances of future hospitalizations
  • Determine what triggers a person’s symptoms
  • Reduce unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and actions
  • Find the right type of medication for the individual
  • Help patients identify a social support network
  • Teach patients how to implement healthy coping skills

In order to effectively meet these goals, inpatient mental health centers are highly regulated and adhere to strict rules and guidelines. Patients will be expected to wake up at the same time each day, show up for mealtimes, participate in therapy, and immerse themselves in recreational activities. These guidelines help set a schedule that helps calm the impulsivity and anxiety that comes with many mental health conditions.

Finding The Right Mental Health Treatment Facility for You

Patients who seek inpatient mental health treatment often find that residential care allows them to relax away from their triggers, gain the undivided attention that they need, and get better quickly. Residential facilities aren’t there to remove people from society – they are there to help people overcome their struggles and integrate back into a healthier lifestyle.

Undoubtedly, the hardest part is picking up the phone and asking for help. At Voices of Mental Health, our specialists are here to make it a little easier by providing you with the compassion, education, and individualized care that you deserve. So, don’t wait any longer. Pick up the phone today to find the right mental health treatment program for you.


  1. https://www.vhha.com/research/2015/08/07/psychiatric-diagnoses-that-result-in-the-most-hospital-admissions/
  2. https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-treatments

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