Movies, advertisements, and often celebrities do not portray how hospitals for psychiatric patients really are.
I do not want to deter people from getting help when they need it. I just want to change the perception that many people have who have never been hospitalized for a psychiatric reason.
Many times, people are treated with disrespect and like animals. They are often neglected, abused, and don’t get the help they desperately need. Many times they are given medications for the sole purpose of getting them to be quiet and not give the staff trouble and to make their jobs easier. Nobody wants to hear what the patient says that may work and what medications would help. Many patients could be helped by art therapy, group sessions, educational classes, exercise class and more. However, the reality is that these are not very frequent. It has been my experience that nothing is hardly ever done on the weekends. What hospitals and a lot of staff don’t realize is that this is not helping the patients. Not that it should matter if someone is on medicaid, has no insurance or has a lot of insurance, but I can tell you that even if you have insurance, you are not treated any differently.
Patients are left to fend for themselves, given nothing to do and many times are scared due to the behavior of other patients. If you look at the Calendar of Events, you would think that the place keeps the patients busy and offers a lot to them to help with their mental illness. However. those calenders are, in my opinion, to pass the requirements from the state or whoever approves funding and have never really seen them followed.
There is always a patient’s bill of rights posted in the hospital. However, I could easily go through each right and easily tell a story about how about 85% of those rights have been violated in my case.
I had my first experience with poor treatment at the age of 17. I make others know when I think others or myself are being treated incorrectly. I, at that age, was approached by a lawyer who wanted me to help him help others by improving the conditions in mental hospitals.
Since that hospitalization, I have endured and witnessed so many awful things in hospitals I have lost track. Partly, it is there is a limited amount of faculty and they do the best they can. In my case, I had insurance and was put in the “better” hospitals, but also at times due to availability was placed in a state run facility. In no way am I saying those without insurance should get less care than those who do and it is shameful that for the most part that it is true.
Sharing Some of the Things that Have Happened to me While In Psychiatric Facilities:
- I was having serious pain due to problems that were medical. Because of the pain, I was not getting enough sleep and this evolved into a manic phase so I was also needing psychiatric care. I actually asked for help with my bipolar disorder and wanted to be admitted voluntarily. I have had serious medical issues before including pancreatitis, heart problems that required a stay in icu, severe stomach problems, had to have my gall bladder removed, and more. That pain was probably the worst I have ever had. I told the nurse that I was in pain. She said to me, “You are not in pain, you are crazy.”
- Another time, I was put in a psychiatric facility due to having problems with my bipolar disorder and voluntarily went to the hospital, but also had gone to the ER due to pain. At the hospital, I threw up several times, could not keep anything down, and was in pain. I let the nurses know and they send a medical doctor. He just said I was fine without running any tests or examining me. I was still in pain so I called the administrator of the hospital and let her know I wanted to see a different doctor. The same doctor came again and said I was fine and to stop bothering him. My pain was just in my head. Well, within a week after being discharged from that hospital, I had to have my gall bladder removed.
- While at one hospital, I was sick most likely due to the meds I was given. I fell asleep lying down by the toilet. I woke up to one of the staff saying. “Is she dead.”
- At that same hospital, an elderly lady who obviously had Alzhieimer;s She would keep going into patient’s rooms thinking her deceased husband was in there. She almost fell more than 5 times. If it weren’t for the other patients watching her, she would have fallen.
- In yet another hospital, although it was on my allergy list because it caused me to have tardive dyskenisa and dystonia (Involuntary movements and where I could not hold up my head, respectively.) I told them and they gave it to me anyway and I did start having those involuntary movements.
- The list goes on and in my next blog, I am going to go through the patient’s bill of rights and explain how I did not have them.
- At one hospital, they did not empty the trash or dust or wash the floor in more than 5 days. If I was in a “regular” part of the hospital, there is no way that would have happened.
- When you ask for something from a staff member at many facilities you are viewed as a trouble maker and/or told to leave them alone. I have seen staff play video games or talk to each other rather than help patients.
- As you probably have noticed, I often had medical problems that came along with my bipolar disorder. My last hospitalization, I woke up where I could not walk on my feet due to them being swollen and really cracked. At home, I have learned to apply vaseline and wrap them. However, it needed a doctor’s approval. I understand why they couldn’t do it that night, but three days later it had gotten so bad, that my legs swelled up so much that my mom who is a nurse was very concerned and demanded that something be done. That night, I also could not go the restroom. The nurses were aware of that too and it took them days to do something about that too. By the time my mom had insisted they do something about that, I had to have a procedure done to help.
- They moved me into another room that night. I had no part in them moving my things. There were 4 things missing that I knew right away and they would not look for them. They never did locate them. In addition they lost my keys and cell phone I had on me when I was admitted. It took them a few days to finally find those.
- During that stay, there was nothing for anyone to do so we just talked to other patients. You have to realize there are all kinds of people there and the smallest thing can set them off which can be very scary.
- Often times the staff has no idea what is going on with all their patients. For example, I have observed male patients go into female patients and vice-versa. Although, this is strictly forbidden for obvious reasons, they don’t pay attention and it happens way more than it should.
- While I understand that some of the staff working in psychiatric facilities do their best and do care, there are so many who don’t. It is one thing to be too busy giving out meds or dealing with an unruly patient and not being able to do what they are supposed to do for the other patients. It is another when a staff person is playing games on their phone, talking to friends or family on the phone for an excessive amount of time, and staff persons talking to each other and often times making fun of the patients.
You are probably thinking that I am making this up as so much of it is really unbelievable. However, I assure you, they are all true.
- The last time I was in the hospital, I had a roommate who kept taking my stuff and moving it into her dresser. I told staff and they did nothing. I also witnessed a man going into a female’s room. I told the staff about it and to my knowledge they didn’t talk to them as I saw the same thing happen again.
- At one hospital, there was a nurse who did not like me. He was trying to give me a medicine that I had consulted with my doctor about and we agreed I should not take it. The nurse knew that it would knock me out and therefore leave him alone to play video games on his phone. He insisted I took it and was yelling at me so I took it. The next day I woke up to bruises where they shouldn’t be. The only way they could have been there is if someone put them there. Later another bruise was found that appeared to be a bite mark. I expressed my concern and the hospital had to call in the police and they had to do a rape kit and questioned me at the police department after I was discharged. It is scary to believe that something happened and I may never know. There were no cameras to prove or disprove the allegations. However, I do know he was fired.
- Another time I was given a medication that was on my allergy list and after they realized their mistake, I had administrators visit my room asking to keep my mouth shut, basically.
These examples just touch the surface of my bad experiences. I know that I am not the only one out there who has had similar things happen to them as I have had others share with me the horrible things they have endured.
I pay the same amount to be hospitalized in a psychiatric facility as I do as the medical part of a hospital, however the care I receive is so different. It angers me and hurts to know that this is true.
The way people with mental illnesses are treated in mental institutions is atrocious and something needs to be change. Granted, we have come a long way since the “insane” were locked up into asylums and restrained and given lobotomies. So much more needs to happen, however.
No one should be treated like mentally ill patients are treated. They shouldn’t be treated that way and definitely not allowed to continue. There needs to be sensitivity training and more staff needs to be hired so the ones who are doing their jobs are not overwhelmed.
I hope that I have showed you how the media, movies, celebrities are not a good example of the reality of what psychiatric facilities. Please know that not all hospitals are bad and not all staff is inconsiderate and awful. They aren’t. However, it’s been my experience that there a lot more bad ones than good ones.
Patients with mental illnesses should be treated with dignity and respect. They should not receive less care in a psychiatric facility than they would in a medical part of a hospital. There is no way that society should accept that this goes on and something needs to be done to expose the problems I have mentioned and so many more not included.
Please note: If you need to go to the hospital, know that all hospitals are not like this and do not let this deter you. If you need help, let a friend or loved one know, a doctor, or go the ER.