Trigger Warning: This article mentions suicide and self-harm.
This conversation isn’t for people who aren’t in the right place yet, sometimes you have to dive headfirst though. This is where we get into the heavy stuff. Mental wards. They can be hard on you, especially if you don’t know the unspoken rules of them. You’re probably wondering “What? Why would there be unspoken rules?” You see, there are things that the hospitals are trying to prevent from happening. Self-harm and suicide are some of them. You usually end up in a ward after a suicide attempt, severe mental breakdown, or even if you stop taking important medication. But regardless of the reason, they have the same rules while you’re there, whether you choose to accept them or not.
- Rule One: No strings
It’s as simple as that until you realize your hoodie has strings, your shoes have strings, even weak strings like headphone strings. While they will tell you that when you’re there, it’s better off that you bring wireless headphones or slip-on shoes. They’ll sometimes go as far as manually cutting the strings off your items. Belts are a complete no, it’s better that you come with pants that fit perfectly.
- Rule Two: No phones
This isn’t the case in all hospitals, but many of them won’t allow you to have your phone. However, during my stay at CAMH, they did allow me to have my phone. Although for some people you have to earn your phone privileges, they are taken away in situations of self-harm. It’s a ploy to reduce self-harm, which works generally well from what I’ve seen, but considering self-harm isn’t always a controllable thing, it’s hard to keep it up.
- Rule Three: No touching
This is a rule that they take VERY seriously, and I can understand why. A lot of people who have gone through trauma don’t feel comfortable hugging or being physically touched. Now with COVID-19, it’s much more serious than it was before. They’re trying to keep you six feet apart. Despite the fight the patients put up to talk to each other, they ultimately do try to keep you away from each other.
- Rule Four: No self-harm
I know a lot of people are there for self-harm purposes or suicidal ideation, but this really is very important. You risk being discharged if you do commit self-harm or a suicide attempt on their grounds. Despite how badly you do need to stay at the moment, they do it to not risk other patients experiencing more trauma.
- Rule Five: Meal times are at specific times
If you miss a meal, you will not get a meal. Due to COVID-19, you’re no longer allowed to order in food, but prior to that, you were allowed to do so. The substance Ensure is given to those who do not eat very much to help produce some sort of healthy eating habits, even though they aren’t exactly a meal. This rule is meant to help people with eating disorders.
I hope this article was insightful and gave you a better understanding of what the process can be like when it comes to mental wards.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please refer to this list for help. In more immediate or severe cases, please call the Canada Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-833-456-4566 or 911.