5 Things You Need to Know About Your First Time in a Psych Ward

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you or a loved one are thinking of admitting themselves to a hospital for mental health reasons, please take a look at this to find some helpful tips and advice. Personally, I have been admitted to hospital twice, and have spent up to three days there each visit. On the first visit, family members brought me; this was an extremely lengthy process to get in and I was very nervous. The second visit, my counselor brought me and sat with me until my parents could make the commute back home to come be with me. This trip was much easier and more successful, as I knew more of what to expect. Here are some tips for when you go!

1. Bring your meds from home.

Plain and simple: bring your medication from home. It just simplifies things. The pharmacy at the psychiatric ward may not have everything you take, and it can be slow to order the meds you need. Plus, having the medication labels is important so nurses know when and how to give you your medication.

2. Alert, they may only have decaf coffee, alert!

I remember the first time I visited the mental health hospital, I drank 12 coffees before I realized it was decaf. Oops. They may have this in place, as well as a no-smoking policy to try and deter any type of addiction. So, be aware that unless you have walking privileges and can leave the psych ward, you may be unable to smoke or drink regular coffee. But they will likely have decaf coffee, tea and should help you in the process to quit smoking for the time you are there. Try having visitors, friends or family bring you coffee when they come to see you, if permitted.

3. Talk to a nutritionist about your dietary needs and restrictions.

When you enter the psych ward, you will be visited by many health professionals. One of these may include a nutritionist or dietitian. If not, you can request to see one if you need it. When you get to talk to them, you can ask for gluten free, lactose free, vegan or other diets. You can tell them specific foods you don’t or can’t eat such as pork, potatoes and so on, and if they are nice you can even ask for extra fruits and veggies if you are trying to be healthy!

4. Sleep when you can.

During weekdays, the bedroom doors are often closed to get patients to participate in groups and activities. Otherwise, lots of people would sleep all day, let’s be honest. But because of medication changes, the atmosphere and pure exhaustion when you get to this mental state, you will likely be so very tired. So, sleep when you can, keep an eye on when the doors are open and nap as often as possible. It is hard to get used to sleeping in an unfamiliar place, with other people in the room and with lights on, so sleep as much as you can! Side note: Use a hoodie or long sleeved sweater to as eye masks, and another one to use as an extra pillow for a familiar feel and smell for comfort’s sake.

5. Make friends.

Everyone is there for a reason, and more often then not it is the same reason you are there. It’s a shitty reason, and it’s not the best place, but making friends and having people to talk to, joke with or play cards with can lighten the mood. Playing Solitaire or reading a whole book in one day is only fun for so long before you want to change it up. Peer support is the best support too. I found there was next to no judgment at the hospital because many have been through the same or similar experiences. So, you don’t have to worry about censoring yourself or hiding certain things to not scare or turn others off. Who knows? You could just help save someone else’s life just by listening.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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