Inpatient Mental Health Treatment
Mental ill health is a term that spans a wide range of mental health conditions and symptoms. Taking the option of inpatient treatment will depend on a variety of factors. There may be an urgent need due to an acute mental health crisis to help arrest a sudden deterioration in a person’s mental state or to reduce the risk of immediate harm.
Inpatient mental health treatment may also be a necessary intervention to deal with a chronic problem (including addiction) that shows resistance to improvement through self-help and/or outpatient treatment. Alternatively, inpatient treatment may offer a temporary respite from significant distress inflicted by life circumstances, serving to prevent the development of severe mental ill health.
Mental health disorders that overlaps with addiction
There are mental conditions where addiction is not an issue while, in many instances, there is a clear overlap. Addiction can develop as the result of a person’s way of dealing with previously undiagnosed or even diagnosed mental illnesses.
“Self-medication” is a term often used to described a mentally unwell person’s attempt to cope with tension or emotional distress through the use of an unprescribed substance, such as alcohol or heroin. Mental illness may also develop as the result of addiction to substances or behaviours (either directly or indirectly) due to the many harmful consequences of the addiction. Our team at our luxury inpatient treatment centre has the range of skills needed to work with patients with co-morbidity.
The importance of sufficient resources and expertise
The term “in-patient” applies to a variety of settings, including (in order of level of resources available) psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers and inpatient mental health facilities.
It is essential that the person is referred to one that is best equipped to treat the patient’s specific mental health condition, taking into account the current degree of its severity. It is a good safeguard for less well-resourced inpatient mental health centers to work in tandem with local psychiatric hospitals that are able to manage the referral of people whose mental conditions may, at some point become florid.
Ensuring everyone’s health and safety is the overriding concern in inpatient care. The inpatient treatment provider must have the capacity in terms of the appropriate human resources and expertise to bring to bear on helping the person. A high level of individual attention is generally needed in inpatient mental health care. The staff-to-patient ratio needs to be organised accordingly.
Prior to admission, it is also necessary to consider the potential impact of more disturbed individuals on the inpatient treatment experience of other patients. Exclusions may be necessary from settings without the same level of inpatient psychiatric care that can be found in a psychiatric hospital.
Inpatient treatment is aligned to the specific disorder
Based on thorough assessment, the inpatient mental health treatment response will be specific to the particular condition, such as eating disorders, bi-polar disorder, generalised anxiety, phobias, depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or any of those listed in the formal diagnostic manuals, including a variety of personality disorders.
There may also be people presenting with burnout and exhaustion brought on by the excessive demands of their lifestyle or work.
In many cases people will arrive at the inpatient treatment center already taking some form of prescribed medication. The prescription is reviewed, adjusted as necessary and then its effect carefully monitored throughout treatment. Every proposed step is discussed with the patient and carefully explained.
A holistic approach to inpatient mental health treatment
While inpatient mental health treatment must be tailored to the specific disorder, there are significant advantages to inpatient services that are able to offer a holistic approach to restoring health and wellbeing more broadly.
Mental health issues often have physical, social and spiritual dimensions as well as the more obvious psychological ones. Being able to take advantage of therapies, activities and experiences that nurture the whole person helps build the mental, physical and spiritual resources each person needs to be able to self-manage recovery from their particular ailment.
It is important for patients to understand and learn from experience that amelioration of their condition is not inevitably to be found solely in medication or consumption of chemicals.
Devising a mental health treatment plan
In collaboration with the patient and having a clear understanding of the person’s immediate and longer-term goals, our mental health professionals will devise a treatment plan. This will include psycho-education about the condition from which the individual is suffering. De-mystification is an important part of the process.
The patient will be advised as to what is known about things that help to reduce symptoms and aid recovery and what increases the risk of making them worse or could trigger relapse.
Drawing on a range of therapies
The patient and the lead therapist, working closely with the psychiatrist backed up by the mental health treatment and care team as a whole, will draw from the range of therapeutic resources available; wherever possible selecting those known to be beneficial in the treatment of the particular disorder. These may include but not be limited to:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
A structured one-to-one “talking therapy” that is effective with a range of problems
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing
EMDR is frequently applied in cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Is an approach to understanding how ingrained thoughts and behaviours, while starting as a coping mechanism, have since become counter-productive and learning how to replace them with more positive internal processes.
Group therapy is an opportunity to gain self-knowledge through honest inter-personal relationship and mutual support.
Art therapy is very useful when accessing valuable insight exclusively through verbal communication proves difficult
Through which a person is introduced to the abstinence-based recovery philosophies and practices of the anonymous mutual-aid fellowships
Mindfullness for learning how to accept feelings and reduce the hold of self-defeating, automatic responses.
The involvement of families
Families inevitably affect their members and are affected by them, whether as individuals or as a whole. With a family member needing inpatient mental health treatment, anxiety will no doubt be raised throughout the family system, with fears about the future to the fore.
Families should be involved in the treatment of a loved one wherever feasible and appropriate. They should also be supported in their own right as they will be experiencing various degrees of stress in their relationship with the patient and may be relating to them in ways that are mutually unhelpful. Educating families about the patient’s mental illness is essential.
A therapeutic environment
The environment plays an important therapeutic role in the treatment of mental ill health, something prioritised at this luxury treatment service.
The quality of the accommodation and amenities in an inpatient mental health treatment center as well as how they are decorated and furnished should convey positive messages of quiet dignity and respect to people who may feel particularly vulnerable, quite stigmatised and suffer from low self-esteem, no matter what their background.
Round-the-clock support provided in a culture of empathic care helps to reassure patients who may feel alone as they struggle with feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control, unable to cope with many aspects of life.
Inpatient mental health treatment service offers the benefit of temporary removal from the immediate pressures of everyday life to a place providing the containing structure of routine, as well as a consistent quality of care. It also provides an antidote to the isolation so many people with mental health problems experience.
An inpatient mental health treatment facility can create a community of recovery that generates an infectiously positive and optimistic atmosphere. Most importantly, it provides the time and space to focus on restoring health and securing recovery without all the normal distractions of everyday life.
Therapeutic benefits of the natural world
It is certainly beneficial if the quality of the external environment of an inpatient mental health treatment facility is equally good. Being able to spend time outdoors in the fresh air where exercise can be enjoyed in beautiful natural surroundings can help to lift spirits. Many people might not have sufficient confidence to venture out so the support and guidance of knowledgeable and empathic professionals will be welcomed.
New or rediscovered healthy habits can be developed over the course of inpatient treatment. Access to a range of complementary therapies such as guided relaxation, pilates, massage or equine-assisted therapy may improve states of mind while helping to maintain motivation and engagement with the treatment process as a whole.
These therapies can also introduce people to health-giving activities with which they may not be familiar but which will help equip them for the journey of recovery that lies ahead. A new approach to nutrition and to gaining sufficient sleep may be called for and expert help provided accordingly in an inpatient mental health treatment facility.
Inpatient mental health treatment is a concentrated, time-limited intervention. While by no means a panacea, it aims to make a real and lasting contribution to the restoration of health by providing respite while offering a person the opportunity to gain insight and perspectives on their condition.
They can also discover and incorporate health-improving attitudes and behaviours that will help sustain their recovery over the longer term. Ongoing support from healthcare professionals may well prove necessary after inpatient mental health treatment and referrals are made accordingly.
All treatment and recovery programmes aim to restore and, if possible, improve the level of well-being that has been disrupted by an ailment and its particular symptoms. However, proactively nurturing, protecting, and enhancing your emotional wellbeing may help prevent the onset of a variety of conditions in the first place, or, at least, lessen their impact. But what is involved in wellbeing; a term that can seem rather nebulous?
The first thing to say is that wellbeing encompasses the quality of physical and mental health, with some people with a truly holistic approach, preferring to add the ingredients of spiritual and social health to the mix. It must be borne in mind that the same well-being system mediates both physical and mental health; the one directly affecting the other. This is why, when either healing or preventing mental and physical illness, we need to look after our whole well-being system and the environment in which we live. It is also important to remember that healing your mental and emotional wellbeing doesn’t just happen spontaneously. A certain amount of conscious effort is required; unless you are lucky enough to be someone to whom healthy living comes entirely naturally and without thought.
Taking a holistic approach also means paying attention to the parts that make up the whole system. This means taking into consideration physical well-being, emotional well-being, mental wellbeing, and social well-being.
For physical health, remember that our bodies need food and drink of all kinds and in amounts that encourage vitality and strengthen immunity. We need to take some sort of fairly vigorous exercise on a regular basis for similar reasons. Being physically active should be a normal part of everyday life. Physical fitness is also known to improve mood, mental wellbeing, and general outlook on life, as well as raising self-esteem.
Social connection is similarly beneficial to general health and emotional wellbeing. Isolation can lead to a variety of problems. Spending time with other people affords a sense of belonging and self-worth while providing opportunities to give and receive support. Small and larger acts of kindness and generosity to others has a positive mental wellbeing impact on all concerned. Furthermore it helps develop a sense of purpose, which in turn brings its own reward. Expressing gratitude for kindness received is also likely to enhance wellbeing.
An active mind is as important as an active body. In that context, learning has been found to have benefits that include improvements to wellbeing as a whole. Consequently, to increase mental wellbeing, people are encouraged to take up a new interest or skill or rediscover one that has fallen into disuse. Such initiatives also offer the possibility of social connection through shared interest while boosting confidence.
Critical to a person’s wellbeing is how they respond to stress in its varying forms and degrees of intensity. Some responses aimed at stress reduction or pain management, for instance, such as the use of alcohol and drugs, often only make things worse for mental wellbeing, either in the short or long term, or both.
Restoring wellbeing and, wherever possible, improving it, is best achieved by both a condition-specific and a holistic approach to promoting mental wellbeing and sustaining recovery.
Everyone will have experienced a degree of anxiety at some time, perhaps in the mild form of worry, apprehension, or nervousness, while some will know what it is like to feel the kind of extreme anxiety known as panic. We use the term “panic attack” to convey the particularly unpleasant sensations associated with an acute episode of intense anxiety that comes seemingly without warning. From time to time people may also have experienced a sense of dread or doom where positive emotions are nowhere to be found, without always knowing why. For many, these emotional experiences are transitory. For others, they may become severe and persistent to the point where they may be described as chronic and attract the diagnosis of an Anxiety Disorder. This is when anxiety has become so debilitating it interferes with the normal course of life and recovery therapy may be required.
Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a normal response to a real, present threat and passes as the threat dissipates. Anxiety has an anticipatory quality to it which may be a mindset imprinted by previous adverse, sometimes traumatic, experiences. Viewed purely in terms of a current context, this state of mind can seem irrational. Severe anxiety is frequently accompanied by restlessness, insomnia, irritability, ill-being, fatigue, and fruitless rumination that can affect physical health. People may also simultaneously experience physical discomfort in the form of tension that may bring with it muscle soreness and a variety of aches and pains. Palms may sweat and hands shake.
Anxiety disorders tend to encompass Generalized Anxiety Disorder on the one hand and on the other anxiety that has a particular focus, such in the case of phobias (claustrophobia, mysophobia/germophobia, arachnophobia, etc.), of which there is any number. Some phobias can place significant limits on a person, Social Phobia is a case in point, as interaction with other people is integral to achieving well-being. In the grip of severe anxiety, some people will avoid human contact, partly out of a worry of what could happen that might be beyond their control. There is also Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, where obsessive, anxiety-based thoughts result in compulsively repetitive behaviour to relieve the anxiety, such as hand washing to avoid germs.
Anxiety disorders may coexist with and relate to, other psychological disorders such as depression, burn out, or physical conditions; especially those that pose a significant threat to well-being, to personal capacity, and even to life itself. Anxiety is also a characteristic feature of addiction. Many addictions originate in attempts to alleviate, escape or control anxiety in a process often referred to as self-medication. Paradoxically, all addictions tend to provoke anxiety and decrease mental well-being, given the loss of control that generally defines them. Furthermore, some addictive substances actually stimulate anxiety.
Treatment of anxiety will begin with a careful assessment of the anxiety suffered, including its form, severity, onset, and history, as well as current circumstances, including any complicating or aggravating factors such as other illnesses or lifestyles. Options, which are applied as appropriate, include, either singly or in combination: psychotherapy (particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), medication, mindfulness, guided relaxation, and mutual aid. Other complementary therapies such as equine-assisted psychotherapy, massage, and some forms of exercise may be also called upon to enhance physiological well-being.
Symptom relief may take time and as in all psychotherapy, personal commitment is required. Medication may play an important part in temporarily reducing levels of anxiety if it has come to interfere with normal function and physical activity. The good news is that alleviation of anxiety-related problems is achievable.
Everyone will feel down from time to time and lack positive emotions, but for some people, a low mood will weigh so heavily on them and persist well beyond a short period that ordinary day-to-day life can come to seem impossible. As this suggests, depression can range in degree from mild, to moderate to severe, at which point a clinical depression requiring treatment may be diagnosed.
Although both are a threat to one’s well-being, depression is not the same as sadness or grief, especially if these are clearly an appropriate response to a life event such as bereavement. Major losses, however, can trigger depression, as can illness, injury, and other major stressors in life.
There are a number of symptoms that may in some combination signal serious depression. These include psychological, physical, and social symptoms. Not everyone will experience depression in exactly the same way.
- Persistently low mood
- Low subjective well being
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair
- Low self-esteem even to the point of self-loathing
- Loss of motivation, desire, or interest
- Anxiety in the form of intense worry
- Feelings of guilt
- Difficulty making decisions and concentrating
- Irritability and/or tearfulness
- Suicidal thoughts and/or impulses
- Avoidance of social activities
- Giving up hobbies and personal interests
- Problems in the family and other close relationships
- Markedly slowed movement and speech
- Loss of appetite or weight (or occasionally increases to these)
- Tension, aches, and pains without apparent cause
- Loss of energy and a sense of inertia
- Disturbed sleep
- Lowered sex drive
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
Some depressions may be understood as being linked to particular circumstances, such as with Post-Natal Depression Seasonal Affective Disorder, or low economic well-being. The condition may also be a feature of Bipolar Disorder.
Depression often features in addictions and may be revealed as an underlying factor in the onset of an addiction, which may have begun partly through attempts to self-medicate or find behavioural ways to alleviate a persistently low mood and psychological well-being. Some substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines are depressant in nature, while others, such as cocaine, may induce a crash in mood as a rebound from the high they produce. Behaviours like gambling may initiate a similar pattern.
Treatment for depression will naturally depend upon the severity of the condition. In the case of mild depression, time will often see the symptoms fade. For depression in the mild to moderate range, exercise is increasingly recommended, though it is important to find a form that suits the individual and to avoid slipping into an obsessive approach. Group exercise can be helpful as it adds a social dimension, reducing any symptomatic tendency to isolate. Self-help groups can be similarly useful as can workbooks (either in print or online). Mindfulness has also been found to help in many cases.
For people unfortunate enough to suffer from moderate to severe depression, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or specialist counseling is a generally preferred option but prescribed medication in the form of anti-depressants may also be called for. This so-called Combination Therapy is likely to be the most effective response to severe depression. While CBT is the talking therapy most supported by evidence, some people may prefer to engage with an interpersonal or psychodynamic model.
Because so much negativity surrounds depression, given its very nature, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that with the right treatment and emotional support, most people do recover from depression.
All trauma is, by its very nature, extremely stressful and affects overall wellbeing. Trauma delivers an overwhelming shock to the system, making it next to impossible to make sense of and integrate the experience at the time. Even if the person is able to shut off its impact (called emotional numbing) to avoid the feelings it produced, for many this will be temporary. However, it is important to remember that people experience and react to trauma in different ways and treatment must respond accordingly.
PTSD may be the result of recent trauma but it may also be a consequence of traumatic events at any time, including in childhood. Personality development and an individual’s whole approach to life may be shaped by the effects of early-life trauma, impacting their wellbeing. For many people, recovery from addictions and/or mental illness will necessitate resolving the lifelong reverberations of traumatic experiences. Among these may have been major social disruption, bereavement, neglect, violence, and sexual or other forms of abuse; often repeated many times.
Symptoms do not always appear immediately with their onset sometimes being delayed for months or years.
Intrusive and vivid recall of traumatic events and situations; often triggered by associations. Such memories are not detached recollections but are experienced as if the person is there, back in the traumatizing moment completely, with all its attendant images, feelings, and sensations.
Restful sleep may prove elusive. Insomnia may be caused by anxiety that keeps people in a vigilant state, making their minds work overtime. Powerful nightmares are common.
Sufferers may be “on edge”, and easily provoked into reacting with irritation or intense anger. They may have a tendency to break down in tears and feel either both anxious or depressed. Repetitive rumination is common as a person tries to come to terms with the experience, often turning on themselves with feelings of shame and guilt deriving from the loss of control.
Disruption of the thought process
Sufferers may have difficulty concentrating or maintaining clarity of thought. They may become dissociated or “spaced out” and seemingly somewhere else. The memory may be impaired.
The residual sensory distress of trauma is often experienced in the body, including the suffering of tension, soreness, aches (such as headaches) and pains. A person may experience sweats and/or nausea, dizziness, and trembling.
Maladaptive coping behaviours
Substance abuse and/or other potentially addictive behaviours often develop. Social detachment may occur, including withdrawal from interests and once enjoyed activities.
Treatment can only begin following thorough assessment of the individual’s history and current situation. In some instances, close and careful watching is required to see if symptoms fade or intensify. If treatment is required, the interventions specifically recommended for sufferers of PTSD include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement and Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Group Therapy, which counters isolation by helping people identify with and draw support from the particular understanding of fellow sufferers. Complementary therapies may also help. Medication and clinical psychology is sometimes called for to relieve symptoms of clinical depression and/or anxiety, although the risk of side effects has to be taken into account. In all treatment contexts patients’ physical and emotional safety is paramount.
A resolution will be possible for some while others will find ways to live with the condition, learning in the process to minimize its impact and thereby greatly improving their quality of life.
Because the word stress has negative connotations given the effect it has when it becomes excessive (i.e., distress), it is easy to forget that stress is essential to life satisfaction and enhanced well-being. We would not grow physically, mentally, or emotionally without having challenges to which to respond.
For instance, if you want to increase the strength of a muscle you must put it under stress. However, if you work it too hard over too short a period of time you may cause the muscle to break down. It is all a question of balance.
The dynamic balance we need to maintain is the one between the demands we place upon ourselves — or allow to be placed on us — and our overall well-being to cope with them. Problems arise when demands are excessive in relation to our level of fitness or capacity to cope with them. When well-being, which must take into account the health and resilience of both physical and psychological resources, is impaired, extra weight and power is added to the demands. Under these circumstances, a variety of problems can arise that are a signal of the system in distress. Well-being as a whole may be placed under significant threat.
The source of stress at the present moment may be internal, external, or both; one working on and with the other. We are all, to some extent, driven by internal demands. These may be an internalized version of demands placed by adults upon us as we were growing up; sometimes in the form of expectations about what we should be or not be; what we should put up with; how we should behave or perform. Or we may have internalized a world that once required us to be in a permanent state of alert.
These may determine our subjective well-being and the way we approach life, which could have the effect of making us more prone to suffer from stress-related problems when we encounter the world of external demands. A perfectionist, an over-achiever, an obsessively compulsive, or an anxiously controlling person would be only four such examples. Sometimes we place ourselves in circumstances that recreate highly stressful situations, probably in the unconscious hope of achieving a better outcome. It is usually in vain and the consequences are sometimes damaging.
Anxiety and tension generally feature in stress-related problems and depression are also common. Finding relief from these states becomes a chronic, agitated concern and may initiate a range of responses. These often include resorting to behaviours that exacerbate the problem by counter-productively bringing additional stressors with them. While turning to drink and drugs may appear to alleviate stress-based conditions in the short-term, it can lead, through repetition and excess, to dependence and addiction. This places a whole new set of demands on the system and further reduces its fitness and capacity to cope. The same is true of other behaviours with addictive potentials, such as the use of pornography, gambling, shopping, gaming, compulsive eating or exercise, and so on. As part of a severe anxiety disorder or depression, individuals may deliberately self-harm.
A thorough assessment will review the current balance between levels of fitness and the types and intensity of the demands under which the individual is attempting to live. The person’s ways of responding to distress will be similarly assessed. Stress management, holistic health promotion, and treatment plan can then be developed, tried, and evaluated.
The abbreviation OCD (for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is sometimes rather carelessly used in colloquial speech as in, “I’m a bit OCD”. Such trivialization can serve to prevent recognition of the serious problem that the disorder proves to be for the many sufferers. In the most severe cases, it can become a significant impediment to normal functioning and be very distressing. It can affect women, men, and children, with puberty often the time of the first onset.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is most easily understood by looking individually at the two parts of the term. OCD refers to the combination of obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour. An obsessive thought is one that, although unwanted, seems impossible to prevent or let go of. It keeps returning intrusively, sometimes accompanied by images or urges which provoke anxiety and often with feelings of shame and disgust. A compulsion is a behaviour or mental process that someone feels they must perform or undertake to relieve the anxiety that accompanies the thoughts.
Obsessive thoughts commonly include the fear of acting on impulses to harm self or others. A similar fear of causing such harm inadvertently might include, for instance, leaving a gas cooker lit, which could result in a house fire or the risk of being burgled by not locking up sufficiently well. It could be a fear of contamination by germs or substances or of asymmetry and disorder, even in quite minor matters. In effect, there is some element of an underlying fear of loss of control linking all these manifestations of OCD.
Common compulsive behaviours include:
- Checking, which involves repeatedly checking and re-checking to see that things like doors are locked or the gas is turned off
- Excessive hand washing and house cleaning to keep germs at bay; sometimes to the point of making hands raw or damaging surfaces
- Arranging objects of various kinds in very precise order, sometimes in minute detail
- Hoarding, whereby things are continually acquired and it feels fearfully impossible to dispose of anything
- Counting – a form of self-administered reassurance similar to superstition whereby numbers acquire significance, particularly in the prevention of harm or mishap
- Constantly seeking reassurance without what is received ever being sufficient to more than temporarily quell the anxiety
- Repeating certain words in one’s head, as if doing so (like counting numbers) had some real effect
- Returning repeatedly to thoughts that are believed to have a neutralizing effect on other thoughts
- Avoiding situations that could trigger obsessive thoughts
Most people with such behaviours may be fully aware that their compulsive behaviour is irrational and has no objective logic to it but they nonetheless feel compelled to carry on for fear of what would happen if they didn’t.
While improvements are possible in cases of mild, moderate, and even severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there is certainly no quick fix at the present moment. For most people, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is likely to be the most promising intervention. Sufferers learn to understand the fear-based processes underlying their OCD and acquire new ways to deal with it rather than resorting reflexively to compulsive behaviour. For more severe cases, symptom reduction is likely to be gradual so it is important to have realistic expectations while remaining optimistic. In severely debilitating cases, medication will be required in conjunction with so-called talking therapies. OCD support and mutual-aid groups can also provide important encouragement.