Acute Psychiatric Treatment A New Deal

Occupational therapy

There’s a saying in mental health circles:

An inpatient mental health facility is good for stabilization, not treatment.

It stands to reason. Mental health facilities are cloistered environments. Doors are locked, where only technicians, doctors, and other staff have keys. There is often just two hallways and a common area. The common area has shutters over the windows. Going outside is not an option. Exercising is a rare occurrence.

For most in the mental health community, the general consensus is that an inpatient mental health facility is not an enjoyable place. While a select number of patients may feel better after walking out of the door, likely they will fall prey to the illness again and be back in the hospital within a short length of time.

The question is “What is an acute psychiatric hospital?” That answers, possibly and hopefully, may be changing.

7.7 million people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

18% of the population, or 40 million adults, are being treated for an anxiety disorder.

The number of persons diagnosed with depression rises by 20% every year.

One study calculated that 20% of the American population suffers from some sort of mental illness.

While many of these individuals will hopefully never enter that assessment room in an inpatient mental health facility, where questions are read by a mental health technician and the answers then sent to a doctor not at the physical location for admittance, many who suffer from mental illness–especially addiction issues, depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia–will seek out treatment from a mental hospital.

And unfortunately, they may run into disturbing situations:

  • Doctors dictating medication without consultation from a patient
  • A patient afraid to speak up because the keys to his or her release or not in his or her hands.
  • Overzealous technicians who take pride in their ability to inject high powered sedatives into “angry” patients.
  • A patient with little influence over course of treatment.

Fortunately, there are some psychiatric hospitals that will try to change that.

Lately, there has been a growing trend: Treat patients with acute psychiatric symptoms through multiple means, rather than the standard “cloister them up and shoot the up with medication.” As some would say, most inpatient mental health facilities rely on symptomology–which is treating the symptoms rather than the root cause of the illness.

Unfortunately, as has been seen, there are many reasons a person may wind up in an inpatient mental health facility. For one, there is the complication of the medication. Sometimes the medication works; other times it possibly causes harm.


This is called polypharmacology or the use of multiple medications to treat an illness.

There are also the possibilities of an underlying neurological disorder. This is especially true in patients that are older. The possibility of Alzheimer’s or dementia can significantly impair the diagnosis or treatment of the mental illness.

The statistics show that:

  • A new case of dementia is diagnosed every four seconds.
  • Approximately 60,000 United States adults are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year and that doesn’t cover the undetected cases.
  • Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.

This new trend within acute psychiatric care involves the use of neurology. Many hospitals now have neurologists on staff to treat the underlying neurological disorders.

Unfortunately, many inpatient mental health facilities are still operating under the premise that treating symptoms leads to full recovery.

But the new mental hospitals are look to change that, one patient at a time.

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