When I was 13, I was institutionalized. I didn’t know what to expect. As an adult, I was even more unsure. There aren’t many resources on this information, but I’ve dealt with the fear of “I don’t know what to do” and I thought I should put this together.
Where should I go for help?
If you are looking for inpatient care, you are looking at a range of security depending on what you will be going for. High security would be no cell phone, no make up, no clothes besides what you are provided, no belongings other than what is allowed and on your person. Low security generally allows you to bring your own clothes, have visitors, use recreational facilities, and keep your cell phone. You may have to weigh comfort, distance, and availability to find the right place for you. This applies more so if your situation is urgent. If you have issues speaking on the phone, consider a relay service or asking a friend for assistance.
What should I ask?
Each facility has their own requirements for you staying. This can range from a recommendation from a doctor to requiring you to visit a specific hospital. Find out what the requirements are.
The majority of the questions I recommend are for comfort. Of course, these questions will vary.
Questions you might find helpful:
- Am I able to bring my own clothes?
- Am I able to wash my clothes?
- Am I able to bring a cell phone?
- Am I able to bring make up?
- Am I able to bring a sketchbook/journal?
- Am I able to bring my own toiletries?
- Am I able to have visitors?
- Am I able to bring my own food?
- Are you able to address specific dietary needs?
- Is your facility wheelchair accessible?
- Is there a curfew or bedtime?
- How often are bed checks?
- Will I be allowed to refuse medication?
- Will I have to share a room or bathing area?
- Is your facility able to “voluntary discharge” patients?
Please remember that you may be subjected to a blood test as well as a urine test.
Now, I live in the USA and this may vary, but due to the stigmas that surround mental illness, you may end up waiting several hours or even days. You may also have to wait for a bed to clear and become available to you. Try to be patient.
What should I bring?
This depends on what you are able to bring.
Here are things to consider:
- three outfits
- chap stick
- written contact info
- cell phone
- journal (to track progress)
- hobby and stimulation things
- comfort items
If this doesn’t answer your questions or if you have any questions about what you see here, do not hesitate to send me a message.
If you would like to translate this for non english speaking people, you may add your translations here.
If it matters to you, you may also want to double check if the wards are single gender or mixed.