Hospitalization is the last resort for people dealing with mental health issues. An inpatient behavioral health unit (BHU) can provide a safe space for patients experiencing a mental health crisis. Sometimes, mental health treatment is not possible at home for various reasons. The proper treatment plan can make a huge difference in getting long-lasting mental health relief.
What is a BHU?
Similar to seeking care at an emergency room to treat physical symptoms, an inpatient BHU provides round-the-clock treatment for people experiencing serious mental health problems. Often housed in a hospital, the patient is admitted to the unit and stays until stabilized. The mental health services offered at a BHU typically include individual and group therapy, detoxification, supervised downtime, and other treatments designed to help patients feel better. Inpatient treatment can be a good idea for many reasons.
Suicidal thoughts occur
Inpatient mental health treatment can provide a safe place for patients to receive care if thoughts of self-harm or suicide occur. Suicidal ideation can be a simple fleeting thought or a more detailed and thought-out plan. Although suicidal thoughts do not always lead to suicide attempts, serious treatment should be sought immediately.
Displaying manic behavior
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes emotional highs, called mania, and extreme lows, called depression. Mania can cause long-term mental health problems and limit the quality of life without proper and immediate attention. A BHU can provide mood-stabilizing, antidepressant, and antipsychotic medications and nonpharmacological treatments such as therapy to treat mania. Patients with bipolar can also get help with sleep while inpatient.
Abusing alcohol or drugs
People with substance use disorders (SUD) may benefit from inpatient treatment when outpatient treatment has not worked or is unavailable. Supervised medical withdrawal can occur at a behavioral health unit if needed. Inpatient treatment for alcohol and drug addiction can last several weeks, depending on how the recovery process goes. Treatment usually involves group therapy, medical care, and individual counseling.
In the worst moments of depression, people may not be in the right frame of mind to practice proper self-care. If a person is not eating, taking medications, or fulfilling everyday responsibilities such as work or school, inpatient mental health treatment may be necessary. Depression can also lead to drug and alcohol abuse, addictions, and suicidal ideation, which can be co-managed at an inpatient facility.
What is involuntary commitment?
In extreme circumstances, a judge can order a person to receive treatment for mental illness. Known as involuntary commitment, this type of order is not an arrest and only occurs in cases of severe mental illness when the patient is considering self-harm or is threatening violence.
The average length of stay for inpatient BHU mental health treatment can vary depending on the reason for seeking treatment and how well the recovery goes. During the visit, food and medication will be provided, and the patient will have access to a room with bathroom facilities. Depending on the treatment provided, visitors may sometimes be allowed.
Stabilizing a crisis
Although many people can benefit from outpatient mental health treatment, in more severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. This is especially true when safety is at stake. Designed to stabilize the patient in crisis, BHUs are an essential service for people experiencing mental health episodes. Once discharged, patients should follow up with a healthcare provider specializing in mental health or addiction to maintain progress made.