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What a Psychiatric Hospital is Like

- Hi, everyone.

So today I want to talk a little bit more

about what exactly it's like to be

in a psychiatric ward or psychiatric hospital.

So I guess I just want to preface this by saying

that these are my experiences,

or this is based off of my own experiences

within psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric facilities.

And I know that it's not indicative of everyone's experience

with these places.

I know that some people find a lot of solace or comfort

in psychiatric hospitals.

This, however, has not been my experience with it,

and so I'm just gonna speak to that,

rather than speaking generally

about everyone's experiences with it.

So I guess we can start off with how you end up

in a psychiatric hospital.

So there are a few different routes

that you can take to end up there,

but the primary one is being formed

by a medical professional, a doctor or a psychiatrist

where they basically write,

I think it's called a Form 10 here in Canada,

which basically certifies you

to require to be kept in the hospital

until you've been examined by two psychiatrists

to deem whether or not it is appropriate to keep you there,

or whether or not you can be discharged safely.

The other route that you can take

is by being brought in by the police.

So if they pick you up on the streets or wherever,

because you were doing something unlawful

or you're creating a disturbance of some sort,

or someone has just called out of concern for you,

or you've made a call out of concern for yourself,

the police can bring you to the hospital as well.

Or the third route is to just check yourself in.

So you can always go to the emergency room of the hospital

and let them know that you're experiencing some concerns

about your mental health

or you're in the midst of psychosis or whatnot,

and you would like to be seen by a doctor there.

So once you've been taken to the hospital

or you've arrived at the hospital,

the process of being admitted

has been a little bit of a traumatic one for me.

So you often are kept

within a special mental health waiting room,

which is not really a waiting room,

it's more of a holding cell, basically,

where you have a bed sometimes,

or sometimes even just a chair,

and you're basically locked in a room with,

or under surveillance.

So somebody is always watching you,

and they take all of your clothes, they take your shoes,

they take your jewelry, all of your personal items,

and you're just left to sit in this room, basically,

until you're seen by a psychiatrist.

Within this room, I was also,

so I was suicidal at the time,

the last time that I was hospitalized,

and I was trying to appease the voices that I was hearing,

by any means possible,

that were telling me to take my own life

and so I was trying to strangle myself

with the hospital gown that I was wearing.

And so they saw this and immediately rushed in

with several members of their staff

and picked me up and threw me down

onto the gurney that was in the room

and strapped me down with the restraints

and injected medicine against my will.

This was a really, really traumatic experience,

and the whole thing was just generally fairly dehumanizing.

There have been times where I've been taken to the hospital

where it was a little bit less eventful than this,

where I was kept in a, I guess, holding cell,

'cause that's what it kind of felt like,

where there was windows all around and just a bed,

and I was just being observed for,

it was actually over a day that I was kept like this

before I was able to get a bed upstairs

in the psychiatric ward.

So the experience of being admitted

varies from hospital to hospital

and it's different for everyone,

but these are some of my experiences with it.

So when you're actually in a psychiatric ward or a hospital,

routine is a really big part of your day.

So all the meals are scheduled to the minute, basically.

There's also a specified bedtime

where lights are turned out,

and also a wake up time where you are essentially

forced to get out of bed in the morning.

So routine is a really big part of your day to day life

in a psychiatric ward.

It depends on what hospital you're at

in terms of what therapy is offered

or what activities are offered

or group sessions are offered.

And so that engagement level can really differ a lot

from hospital to hospital,

but it has been my experience

to not have had too much involvement

with that sort of thing,

which has been really hard

because you get really, I guess, bored and idle

sitting in the hospital with nothing really to do,

but to think, basically.

It's part of this and part of just being locked in a place

where you don't want to be, that makes it feel a lot,

or really similar to what I would imagine

jail might be like.

So you're bunking with a lot of people,

you're being told what to do and when to do it,

you are not allowed to leave.

You can be kept in isolation

if you're deemed to be acting out.

I have been put in isolation, and when I was,

I was stripped naked of all my clothes

and I was pinned to the ground

by six hospital staff, both nurses and security,

who then pinned me to the ground

and administered medicine against my will.

So it was just experiences like this

that really kind of soured my opinion

of psychiatric wards and psychiatric hospitals.

And I guess fed my opinion of always wanting to get out

as early as I could.

So even when you want to leave as early as possible,

it can be really difficult to leave,

especially when you're deemed to be

a risk to yourself or to others.

So every time I've been in the hospital,

I've contacted a patient rights advocate

who is an external person who helps patients advocate

for their rights within the hospital

and for their right to leave,

if that's something that you're wanting

to advocate for as well.

So every time, I've been put up

in front of a panel of psychiatrists

and community members and whatnot

who were meant to decide whether it was safe

to be discharged or not for me.

Every time, they shut me down (laughs).

They said, "No," every time

but sometimes it works for patients,

but very rarely does it work.

Usually, they go with what the psychiatrist is recommending

and if they want to keep you there,

then that's usually what they do.

Something that I want to touch on, though,

is the comradery, I guess, that can be forged

when you're in a psychiatric facility.

So you're spending all this time with these other patients

and so you tend to bond a little over your shared experience

and your shared difficulties.

In terms of having visitors, my friends and family,

there's usually visiting hours put in place

for when they can visit.

I believe the last hospital I was at,

it was from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the afternoon or evening.

So again, there's not really a lot to do throughout the day,

but then if you're lucky enough to have family and friends

who are willing to come and visit you,

that's kind of something to look forward to in the evenings.

Your sense of time and reality

kind of gets warped a little bit

in the hospital or in a psychiatric facility.

And things like snack time before bed

become really pivotal periods throughout your day.

So it was something to look forward to

because I was interacting with other patients

and nurses during that time, and it was just,

it was a high point of the day, unfortunately,

or something to look forward to.

I guess a criticism or point of opportunity for improvement

within psychiatric facilities

would be to just implement better programming

to teach better life skills,

or to just refresh people on different life skills.

So this can include programming on things

like taking care of yourself, exercise,

proper nutrition, basic finances,

just life coaching with a mental health focus,

just things like this

that can really help a person to better integrate

after they're released from the hospital.

So in terms of the actual discharge process,

I guess another criticism that I would have

would be that there really needs to be a lot more planning

and care given to making sure that supports are in place

for patients when they're discharged from the hospital

in order to continue care within the community.

For me, there was not a lot of discharge planning involved,

and so it was kind of like, a bit like catch and release

where I was just thrown back into the community

with no real supports put in place after my discharge.

With the one exception being my last hospital stay

where they referred me to a psychiatrist

within the community, but that was it,

and there was like a month wait.

So there wasn't really any immediate support given.

I don't have the exact statistics on hand,

but it has been shown by several studies, repeatedly,

that people are at the highest risk for suicide

immediately after they're discharged

from a psychiatric institution or psychiatric hospital.

The increased risk period is primarily

for three months after their hospitalization.

So I'm not really sure why we're not putting more effort

into supporting these individuals

who are reintegrating back into the community

in order to reduce some of these suicide rates

and some of these problems with reintegration

back into the community.

So in summary, I guess my experience

with psychiatric facilities

such as psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric wards

has been a little bit more of a negative one

and it's felt something like what I would imagine

jail might feel like.

This is a really far cry from the healing nature

that hospitals should be encompassing,

especially psychiatric hospitals,

where people are requiring specialized supports

in order to heal from their psychiatric problems.

So I hope this video helped to give some insight

into what staying in a psychiatric facility is like.

Again, I want to reiterate

that these are my own experiences with it,

and I know that it's not representative

of everybody's experiences with psychiatric facilities.

But in my own experience,

I'm now working with my therapist and my psychiatrist

to stay out of hospital as much as possible

because it just hasn't been a good, supportive environment

for me in order to heal and deal with my mental illness.

So thank you so much for watching.

If you found this video helpful,

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Thanks again, and have a great day, bye.

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