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Being admitted into a Psychiatric Ward is not a sign of failure or the end. An inpatient hospitalization stay can be the beginning of your recovery and could save your life. While in the hospital medications can be adjusted, diagnoses given or changed, and you can get answers to questions. No, I am not saying that a hospital stay is the best thing that will ever happen, and many people do not like being admitted. Some hospitals are better than others and sometimes getting admitted can be a problem. You may be in a room with people who you are not comfortable with, be surrounded by some not so friendly staff and even have to eat lousy food, but focus on you and why you are there. Take advantage of that time to ask questions, to learn from the other people around you and to get better.
If you are a family member of a loved one, who is currently on a psychiatric ward, visit and be involved. Get to know the treatment team to include the Attending and treating physician (may or may not be the same person). If possible, ask for a meeting with the Social worker and or Doctor. If a date for a team meeting (a meeting in which all of the professionals involved in your loved one care gets together to discuss his or her case) has been set, try to attend. Your input is valuable and can help ensure that the treatment team is focusing on the right goals (your loved one may not be able to articulate their needs clearly). Ask questions about the diagnosis, about the medications, inquire about the discharge plan and if you have concerns, share those concerns with the team. For example, you may feel that your loved one should be in the hospital for longer than two days. If that is the case be prepared to share with the team why you feel that way, let them know what you have been observing. Please understand that the goal of an inpatient hospital stay is to stabilize not to warehouse. Meaning today many inpatient hospitals do not have enough beds to keep people long term, many of the newer psychotropic medications work faster and people can stabilize to a point where the MD may feel that they can go home quicker. However, you live with your family member, and you know the challenges that you and your loved one will have to face once he or she is discharged. So share those challenges with the team and ask them to help you to develop a realistic plan that takes into account those challenges. For example, if you know that there are limited mental health supports in your area and that the earliest your loved one can get a mental health appointment in the community is three weeks from the discharge date advocate with the inpatient doctor for enough medications to cover the time.
Upon discharge ensure that you or your loved has a follow-up appointment with a psychiatrist or mental health clinic in your area. It will be vital for you to follow up and to continue the work you have done while in the hospital. Follow up with a mental health professional, medications, family, friends and faith can all be important components in your recovery plan. Unfortunately, some people do not follow up with a mental health team in their community. Because they feel good after the discharge they don’t feel the need to keep seeing anyone, so they don’t, unfortunately especially in the case of many illnesses, symptoms do return. Don’t let this be you; there are treatment options for you and your loved one to get the help that you need. So get them!
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