5 'Crazy' Misconceptions About Mental Hospitals

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Day being this past Tuesday, I decided to destigmatize the stereotypes placed on mental health and psychiatric units. Seeking treatment for one's mental health is often frowned upon because those who try to maintain a good pyschological state are considered "selfish" or "crazy." Unfortunately, this steers many people away from seeking the help they need. 

I'd like to send a special thank you to the Her Campus writers who shared their experiences with me for this article. 

  1. 1. "Insane" People 

    This is the biggest myth about those receiving care in psych units. The media tends to paint psychiatric patients as violent, lawless animals. In movies, I've seen people throwing things, screaming, attacking doctors and several other aggressive acts. However, this is rarely the case. Most patients in these facilities are ordinary people just receiving additional help coping with their daily lives and that is perfectly normal. Everyone I met was very kind and willing to share their own stories to benefit the other patients' healing and growth. We'd draw, watch movies and do puzzles together. 

  2. 2. Straitjackets and Padded Rooms

    Though they are often depicted in the media, straitjackets and other dramatic forms of restraint are only used as a last resort. Sedatives are typically utilized before any of these methods because they're easier to administer and are safer for both the patient and staff. As for padded rooms, they don't even exist in most hospitals. They are only used when a person is at much greater risk of hurting themselves or others. 

  3. 3. Not Prime Time Television 

    As previously stated, movies and TV shows tend to make pyschiatric units seem like chaotic, high energy floors. In reality, these facilities are very calm and tranquil to aid in the healing of the patients. You stick to a strict schedule to ensure this; every morning you wake up at a certain time, get your vitals taken, eat meals, do group therapy and relax. 

  4. 4. Prison-like Food

    It is often believed that the food served to patients is minimal, bland and inedible. However, in my experience on the pediatric unit, we were given "menus" to pick our meals from for the following day. You could choose anything from chicken nuggets to apple pie. To be quite honest, the only downside to the meals was that they weren't always hot. Additionally, we also had "snack time" where we could go into a room and take food such as chips, little sandwiches and those small ice cream cups everyone used to eat in elementary school. 

  5. 5. You're Stuck There Forever

    It often seems that patients are required to stay for long periods of time, but it really depends on your progress. Personally, I stayed for three days while others expressed to me that their experiences lasted from seven days to three months. You have to be cleared by a doctor, a therapist, a psychiatrist and a social worker prior to being discharged. 

Getting additional help with your mental health is not something to be afraid or ashamed of. If there's one thing take away from this article, it should be that getting help if you think you need it is not a bad thing. There is no shame in trying to recover. 

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4