TOP 10: Things You Might Not Know About Mental Health and Psychiatric Units

  1. Mental illness is really all about mental health. We *ALL* have mental health.
  2. Psychiatrists will often treat your symptoms as oppose to broadly working with the diagnostic label that you’ve been given. 
  3. Hospital admission can be voluntary or involuntary under The Mental Health Act.
  4. It’s not prison. It’s hospital. Although some restriction is put on patient movement/accessible areas (mainly for patient safety)  you are free for most of your time at hospital to do as you will in the unit enjoying art/music and some outdoor activities.
  5. There are no straight jackets used in Psych Units as films would have you believe. Really! But, there are specific restraining techniques used and tested (chemical and material) in situations that call for their use.
  6. Some psych units have individual patients rooms, others have a mix of bays (multiple occupancy) & individual rooms. Some wards are mixed sex, others split. 
  7. Hospital doesn’t mark the end for you, although it might feel that way when you’re firstly admitted. It’s actually the beginning of your mental heath journey towards better health in hospital & increased wellness when you’re finally reintegrated into your community. 
  8. Don’t worry! Everyone at the Psych Unit won’t know your business – unless you want them to. Patient confidentiality and data protection laws mean your case cannot be shared with other patients – only amongst MH professionals, if needed. Most patients get to know each other in the ward and choose (or not) to share their diagnosis together. 
  9. Psych units today don’t look like those dark and heavily contained asylums back in the day! There’s a homely feel to most units today that could probably be roughly described as student dorms that include soft furnishings. 
  10. Psych units are not ‘like’ hospitals even though they are hospitals of a kind! Lie-ins are common and patients sometimes get together to arrange events like DVD nights and can even enjoy take away!
  • A few things I learnt along the way. 4 psychiatric admissions later ….

Malan Wilkinson

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