When your doctor at the facility thinks you’re well enough to leave, he/she meets with you for a final evaluation and to provide you with prescriptions for any medications you may need to take. If you provide the doctor with your pharmacy’s phone number, he/she will call in some of the prescriptions for you so you can pick them up on your way home. (Some medications, such as benzodiazepines, are controlled substances and can’t be called in; you must give the pharmacy a written prescription to receive these medications.)
The doctor, not the hospital staff, decide when you’re discharged. Pleading with nurses and other staff members won’t shorten your stay.
Knowing Your Patient Rights
Most jurisdictions mandate rights specifically for patients in mental health facilities. In most places, you have the right to:
- Refuse to submit to treatment, including medication, if you’re a voluntary adult patient
- Petition the commitment court for consideration of the treatment program if you’re an involuntary patient
- Be free from harm, including unnecessary or excessive physical or chemical restraints, emotional or physical abuse, and neglect
- Receive information about your diagnosis and treatment and participate in planning your treatment
- Keep and use your own personal articles, including clothing and toiletries, with some restrictions
- Access individual storage space for your private use
- Keep and spend a reasonable sum of your own money for small purchases, if necessary
- Make and receive confidential phone calls
Patient rights very according to jurisdiction you’re in and whether you’re voluntarily or involuntarily admitted to the facility. In the U.S. you can find a mental health patient right manual for nearly every state online. Use your favorite search engine to search for “mental health patient rights” followed by the name of the country, state, or other jurisdiction in which you live. You may also have access to mental health patient right advocates.
Making Your Stay More Comfortable
The follow survival tips can make your stay in the hospital a little more pleasant and productive:
- Bring any medications you’re currently taking or a list of the medications and their prescribed doses
- Tell the nurse and doctor if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking any other non-prescribed drugs. A withdrawal reaction can be dangerous, especially if no one knows what’s happening to you
- Bring your doctor’s and therapist’s contact information
- Leave valuables at home
- Leave your belt, pocketknife, and any other potentially harmful accessories at home. The hospital won’t let you have anything that you or another patient could use to harm yourself or others
- Bring slippers or loafers or some other footwear without shoelaces
- Bring comfortable but modest clothing
- If you can, bring your own pillow and a comfortable blanket
- Bring a journal without spirals or wires to record your thoughts and feelings and to jot down any useful information you pick up from the staff, therapy groups, or other patients
- Cooperate with the staff as much as your mental state allows
- Get to know your fellow patients. Psychiatric hospitals are populated with interesting and intelligent individuals who understand your experience better than people on the outside
- If you smoke, bring an ample supply of cigarettes. (If your hospital is non-smoking, you may receive a nicotine patch.)
- Bring books, magazines, and a deck of cards if you play
- Pack one or two photos of family, friends, or pets – without glass frames – to warm up your space
Find out your visiting and phone privileges as soon as you can process the information. You can then plan a schedule to communicate with your family and other support team members. Continued contact and support from the outside world can very beneficial, but avoid potentially dangerous or toxic interactions as much as possible. Use phone and visiting time to build an outside support network of healthy relationships and a firm foundation on which to build your recovery.
Keeping Your Team In The Loop
Communication is an important part of building and maintaining your support network and getting what you need to facilitate your recovery both during your hospitalization and beyond. Be sure to keep your doctor, therapist, and loved ones in the loop:
- Notify your doctor and therapist – If you don’t notify your doctor and therapist that you were heading to the hospital, let them know where you are as soon as you can. Confirm that your inpatient team has contacted your outpatient caregivers to get past history and information on current medication/therapeutic interventions and to collaborate on your inpatient treatment plan and your transition from inpatient to outpatient status
- Stay in touch with loved ones – Your support network of loved ones can contribute to easing your transition back to the real world after your hospital stay, so if you’re feeling up to it, keep friends and family members in the loop, especially if this is your first hospitalization
Some facilities offer family education and therapy, which can help family members start to develop understanding, empathy, and realistic expectations for your recovery. If the facility offers it, encourage your family to do their best to take advantage of it.
Making Recovery Your Top Priority
Leaving the hospital doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to get back to your daily routines. A severe mood episode can leave you exhausted, and you may not regain your bearings for several months. No matter how much you want to get back to your normal routines, the encouragement is to take it slow and make full recovery your number-one priority.
Source: Bipolar Disorder for Dummies